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.”
If there is one metric we have to apply to how we live our life, it has to be how much we are willing to love. Sometimes we can create a feeling that an abundance of love, or saying the word too much, cheapens the sentiment somehow, but I do not know if that is true. Love is a pure and unbounded thing. It is as infinite as God is, that is why God chooses to identify with that one term – “Love.” Sometimes people will talk about how there’s multiple kinds of “love,” that Greek generally, and the Bible specifically talks about. That is an exaggeration of sorts.
Love is usually called “αγαπη,” (agape,) and rather than being a special kind of love, it is the transcendent character of love. Let me put it plainer. All love – for family, for friends, for our beloved – these all spring from one place, and that place is agape. Scripture talks about love most often in this general term, not because it wants to be vague or take away the power of “love,” as a declaration, but to show that all love is rooted in the Divine. When we work to live and work and grow alongside our friends, our family, our neighbors, we do it all in the Spirit of 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter that best defines love in words.
We seek to be patient, and kind, to not envy or boast. We do not seek our own way or bitterly struggle against each other. We forgive, and we chase after truth. Rejecting evil we trust, embolden, and affirm one another. We stand together against a world that can be cruel, difficult, and just plain nasty. We aspire to do this, not only in the abstract world of words, but in actions. The action that speaks loudest and best to the nature of love, is the one we model today. We wash one another’s feet, we kneel down and submit to those around us. We do this because Christ did it first. In re-enacting this one act of love, we prepare ourselves to accept Christ’s love which he showed the day after he washed his disciples’ feet. We prepare ourselves to behold the crucifixion, and in preparing to behold, we prepare ourselves to imitate our God, our savior, our Jesus. – Amen.