Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. – John 13:3-5
When I was in S. Korea last month I purchased this plaque at a religious articles shop outside the Mirinae Martyrs Shrine. It has a look of Korean letters but is obviously a graphic of Jesus washing one of the apostles’ feet. It is black lines painted on an off-white background, sort of stark. But it’s also somehow got a warm look about it. I think it’s the way the unknown apostle (Peter?) is leaning forward over the bowed head of Christ. Jesus is busy at his task, His very humble, some might even say humiliating, task of washing the dirty feet of the men who call Him “Master” and “Teacher.” Men who have come to believe, by this time, that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the One who was to come into the world and save it.
I’m sure they were confused, although Peter is the only one brave enough or perhaps reckless enough to resist and then to, overcorrect and ask Jesus to wash his hands and face, as well. Like I said, confused. The point Jesus is making has to do with serving others no matter what society says your proper station is in life. We are none of us better than another, none of us more worthy of honor. We each hold a very sacred dignity as a child of God. Because every person ever created was made by God, in His image and likeness we carry the “Divine spark” within, even if we don’t know it or aren’t always mindful of that fact.
Of course, once we ask the Holy Spirit into our lives, we are so much more enlivened by that spark. It catches fire and burns in our hearts and souls. The same Spirit which will, only a few short days from this example of servant leadership raise Jesus from the dead, lives within those of us who allow the Advocate entrance into our souls, minds, and hearts.
And once the Spirit lives within us so intimately and intensely, following our fearless Leader in humility and with the same love with which He loves us all, becomes easier. If we give up the struggle of trying to do things ourselves and turn it over to the Lord, we will find Jesus’ words are true (of course!): “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” It’s love! It’s all love. With that come mercy and forgiveness. We get it from God; we need to give it to others. And only with God working through us will that ever truly happen. More on that in a future post.
For now, let’s thank the Lord of all Creation, the Holy One, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, for what He did for us and what He continues to do for us every day if we would just get out of His way and let Him steal the show. Those are the words of TobyMac, “steal the show,” Holy Spirit, and we will sit back and “watch you go.” It really does take the burden off our spiritual shoulders if we surrender to His power, wisdom, and grace.
His ways are so “high above our ways,” it is understated in Scripture. So you have to trust, and then surrender to God, knowing He has our very best interest at heart, His very perfect, merciful, all loving heart. Don’t be afraid! That’s the one Thing we need never fear – our Triune God, who made Himself so small and weak – a literal baby. And then He made Himself meek and humble in the eyes of the world as the Suffering Servant we read about in all the Gospels and that is prophesied in Isaiah.
That’s the kind of God we are surrendering to, One who loves us that much. He shows us how to be a servant leader, leading others to God by the humble acts of our lives, by a love with which He loves that leads to the transformation of hearts, the conversion of minds. We read in the Scripture excerpt above that Jesus knew where He came from and where He was going. That kind of certainty should be ours, too. Our origins: made in the image and likeness of God and our destination: we are pilgrims passing through on the way to Heaven! We just need to follow the Leader, the Servant Leader, who gave Himself up once, and for all. For you and me.