Serve and be Served

 

Foot Washing

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”  Jesus answered him, “What I am doingyou do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”  Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not 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, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”  For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you,a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.  John 13:3-16 ESV

The day before the day of his death, Jesus ate supper with his friends.  After supper he served by taking the lowest possible place – someone who washed their feet.  People wore sandals back then and streets were dirty – feet really needed washing!  This was one of the Lord’s last acts before the worst day of his life.  What should we see in it?

1)  We need to serve.  We need to see our example.  For I have given you an example…blessed are you if you do…  Jesus took the lowest place and so should we.  He is our master and we must be like him.  That means serving others with some of the most low-down and even dirty help that they need.  Those who follow Jesus are to be servants to one another and to the world. We are to alleviate pain, give help, and care in whatever ways we’ve been given.  We are to do.  We are to serve.  But that is not all…

2)  We need to be served.  Jesus serves his friends and disciples to show them a greater principle – The Son of Man cam to serve.  While he washes their feet, which would be very immediately helpful, there is something greater afoot.  If I do not wash you, you have no share in me…  Jesus came to do something far more than we could ever imitate – He came to live and die in our place.  That is the Gospel, that His life and death stand as our righteousness and atonement.  Belief in his that washes away all our sins.  That is not something we could do on our own.  We need to be served.

 

So as we remember the Story of this great week, remember both to serve in the ways we can.  And to be served in what we cannot do for ourselves.  That is the Good News.

 

 

Grand Welcome to Utter Rejection

 

"Entry of Christ into Jerusalem"  Anthony van Dyck, 1617

“Entry of Christ into Jerusalem” Anthony van Dyck, 1617

The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”   And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, thenthey remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.  The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.  The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.  So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”  John 12:12-19 ESV

If the Gospel story would have ended here, it would have been a happy success.  The King – Jesus – has come to the Royal City – Jerusalem – and the crowds receive him with joy.  He has fulfilled Zechariah’s 600 year-old prophecy and has it made in the shade.  Right?  Well, in a few short days his grand entrance turns to painful and humiliating rejection.  The Messiah who entered the city is cast out of it.  It is amazing to consider how Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem differs from his exit.  How could it go from such a grand welcome to utter rejection?

There are two reflections we can have as to such a difference in such a short time:

1)  The first is that even though Jesus was the promised Messiah, even though he was the King of Israel (and soon the entire world), even though he was completing his mission by arriving in style – there was something else left to be done.  Jesus is King but he does more than just rule.  He will rule but he also atones.  He rules his people (and the entire world) but also makes atonement for his people.  Because of sins, all people deserve rejection, wrath, and death from God.  Because of God’s great love, His great plan was for Jesus to bear that for his people.  That’s why the story doesn’t end at John 12:19 with Jesus a big winner.  He has to become a loser first.  His mission is not yet complete.

2)  The second is that it is amazing that the same people who cheer his arrival so quickly become those who cry for his torture and death.  In a few short days!  I would never have done that to Jesus.  People like us could never reject him.  We’re too smart for that.  Those fickle crowds are nothing like you and me.  Right?  The rejection of Jesus is often misconstrued as being anti-semitic for it shows the Jews rejecting Christ.  This is a tragic mistake.  We’re supposed to see ourselves in that Jerusalem mob – the same folks who wanted him at first, turn on him when he does not fit their mold.  We see that they – and we – are the very people Jesus has come to complete his mission for.  We are the ones needing not just good guidance from a perfect ruler, but sacrificial atonement for our rejection of God’s plans and our many sins.

This Sunday is the traditional day when we remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem – the height of his popularity.  And we remember that his mission did not end there.  We can reflect on the end of his great path of salvation for us; and on how much we need it.

 

It’s April 3rd! Did Jesus die on this day?

April 3rd this year in my city is not the greatest day we’ve seen.  It’s snowing!  It’s cold!  And it feels like just another day in the long slow grind of life after a long hard winter.  But consider for a moment, there may be something more to April 3rd.

Nobody knows exactly when Jesus died – it is not a salvation issue.  But these guys make a fairly decent case that it could have been on April 3rd.


http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/04/april-3-ad-33

Whether Jesus did or not die on April 3rd may not ultimately matter but anything – anything! – that causes us to ponder his death is a great thing! So maybe…

 

 

Dead is Dead – or – in which I consider Jesus laying in His tomb

The dead Christ with the Virgin, John and Mary Magdalene - unknown artist, 18th C

The dead Christ with the Virgin, John and Mary Magdalene – unknown artist, 18th C

Being Good Friday, we were talking about the Gospel Story around the dinner table.  My three year old daughter (a theological mind if I ever met one) is telling all about Jesus.  She knows about the Cross, and about the stone being rolled away, and about Him living again but has a serious question.

“He wasn’t really dead, was He?”  She asks.

“Oh, but He was really dead.  Dead is Dead.  He was dead.”  I reply.

As I said the words I began to think about Jesus being dead.  I mean, dead-dead.  I’ve thought long on Him dying, and long on Him risen, but never really before on Him in the grave.  Between Good Friday and Easter there He was, dead in the tomb.  The day in between is important; during that day He experienced death in a real way.  His day in the tomb was a long pause between atonement and resurrection, between two great works.  Not just through dying and rising but also through His being dead, He has won us victory:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things…

He dies just like I will.

that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, the devil…

Through that death He beats the architect of death – the devil.

and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.  Hebrews 2:14-15

I need never be a slave to the fear of death.  I am free.

The day in the tomb was not a write-off.  Through those cold, still hours He was working a great triumph that we can partake of.  Praise be to God.