Today’s reading is on John 13.
Have you ever been wronged by a close friend? A dishonest family member? A duplicitous coworker? In the moment of realization, where it sets in that someone you genuinely trusted has intentionally wronged you, it really stinks, doesn’t it? On the night of the Passover supper, the last night Jesus’ closest friends had with Him before His death, in my own humanness, I imagine the frustration someone in Jesus’ position must have felt; knowing His good friend Judas would sell His life for just a little money. I can empathize the hurt and pain that must go through someone’s head in. But no; John 13 instead tells of a truly one-of-a-kind friend, who even facing with full certainty His imminent agonizing death, decided to show love, servitude, and gratitude to His friends who needed it. In this chapter, we see an incredible example of living & showing Godly love when we probably least feel like it.
Key to the acts of service and sharing of wisdom Jesus provides the disciples in this chapter is verse 3; Jesus’s firm knowledge of God’s will for Him: “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God.” It is knowing His role in God’s kingdom that helps Jesus show how taking on the role of the humblest servant can be a radical act of love. It is knowing His blood would be poured out for us to wash us from sin, that he would tell us all in verse 8: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Or in verse 10: “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.” It is the incredible love of all His children by which Jesus would lead by example, commanding in verses 34 & 35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This outpouring of selflessness, humility, and love is the example by which we Christians are to live. Where we’d be inclined to focus on our own woes and trials, Jesus joyously put the service of others ahead of Himself. Where we’d be disappointed and hurt, Jesus showed love and encouraged the loving of others. Great leaders often lead by example; this is Jesus exemplifying the love He spoke of in Matthew 5:44: “I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Or Luke 6:27 – “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”
Not only was Jesus, perfect and just as He is, able to love so radically and selfless in this moment, but John gave us direction into how we too can further mirror this part of Christ’s nature in verse 3: “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…” Christ knew and graciously accepted His role in God’s kingdom, allowing that same grace to pour out and wash not only his disciples at this last supper, but to continually wash all of us in the abound grace of God. Christ tells us in plain language that none of us stand above each other in front of the Father; it is through grace atoned through Christ’s death that saves us all alike.
Do you stand firm in your identity in Christ? Do you seek deeper & further understanding & growth regularly on God’s path for you in life? Does this knowledge drive you love as selflessly, humbly, and radically in the presence of your detractors as Christ did? Today I pray for all of us to spend time ruminating on God’s word, what it means for our life & our role within His salvation plan, and how to better love selflessly in the face of our selfish and conceited human nature. And above all, to pray & consider how we can better show & live Christ’s new commandment: to love one another, just as He has loved us all in washing our sin in His blood.