John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them…
Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Today we are reminded what makes Jesus the king we worship like we do. Regardless of his rightful place ruling all the universe, despite his existence from before eternity began, Jesus is a servant before he is a ruler. On the night before Jesus is going to be killed, knowing that one of his most trusted friends is going to be the implement of his destruction, he does not plan an escape or immediately cast this friend aside. Instead he strips off all his clothing, dresses himself in just a towel, and cares for his friends – even the one who was already plotting how he was going to turn him over to his enemies.
Jesus’s overwhelming love for those around him was not just limited to this single night, it was in everything he ever did. Jesus never asked for anything from those around him for his help. He was not afraid to speak the truth or to call out the wrongdoing of others, but he was never cruel and was willing to show love even as he rebuked the evil in the world. Nothing Jesus did was outside of the context of love and service. From the day he was born in Bethlehem to the day he died on Golgotha, Christ was here to serve, ready to bring us into the Kingdom his father had prepared for him.
Tonight, as we remember Christ’s final evening before his death and resurrection, we rehearse the love which he showed us. As we take up towel/cup and water/bread, we remember the astounding work of Christ. Soon Christ will be hidden for us for a time, but the light that will be revealed after that grim darkness will shine brighter than any other. Today we get to see what Christ did with his final hours and we see that what he did was serve. If we really want to see what Jesus was all about, we should look to these final dear moments he spent with his loved ones. We should serve always, striving at all times to embody the principles shown to us by Christ’s own sacrificial life. – Amen.