Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dirty Feet Slave

I love little moments where something just clicks and you gain new knowledge or insight. I was reading John last night and came across jewel of info, something that I had never quite put together in the past and see brilliance in. I ran home as fast as I could to make notes about it, all the way thanking God for showing me something new. Jesus washed the disciple’s feet…by just saying that everyone has already conjured up all the sermons they have heard on serving others and thinks they have me figured out…slow down there speedy and keep reading though, this is not that, I promise something different.

Why is serving so hard? Why is it harder to just go and do than be a part of and help plan? A true servant requires nothing in exchange for what they have done; they seek no benefit, and no personal gain. The hardest part about serving is that it offers no affirmation, it offers no praise, it offers nothing at all actually. Everything we find joy in gives us some kind of payoff. Obviously I’m a writer, thus I’m also a literary nerd and really am into finding trends in literature and studying classical rules and patterns. There is a short sentence right before Jesus actually gets up and starts the foot scrubbing (gross by the way). Read the below passage once through, then read it again paying special attention to the highlighted words.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them (John 13:1-17, NIV).”

Did you catch it? The word “so” is a coordinating conjuncture. A coordinating conjuncture connects two equal parts of a sentence; a coordinating conjunction can join two main clauses that a writer wants to emphasize equally. Equally, John wants to emphasize something equally. The importance of washing the disciples’ feet is equal to the cause. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Because Jesus knew that the Father was in control and because He knew He was from God and would be returning to God, because of these things He got up and started washing feet.

What’s the big deal about washing feet? Well, in those days a host would have his servants wash the feet of his visitors. That sentence in itself is packed full of important things we should unload. Jewish men would walk everywhere, the sandals we now call Jesus sandals in jest are not the sandals He wore. I’m pretty sure the sandals the men in those days wore were just pieces of hard leather with strings attached to hold them onto their feet. They would walk miles a day. There was also no running water back in those days, so it wasn’t like if you stepped in something you just stopped at the local 7/11 and washed your feet in the water hose. Basically you walked all day, you continued to build up debris and other things you stepped in on your feet. When you finally arrived at your location the host would have one of his slaves wash your feet. A slave is someone who is treated as property of others. Property, not people, property…

Jesus is the Messiah; all His disciples are following Him with this understanding (well maybe except for one). Jesus was God and had proven His authority to these men multiple times through miracles. Now God, the creator of everything, gets up form the table and washes feet. What is Jesus saying here? Jesus is basically saying I am your slave; I am your servant, not a political position above you, but willing to serve you as a slave. What in the world does it take for one to submit themselves to slavery?

We are generations past the enslavement of Africans in our country and we still hear the moans of pain it caused, people are still walking around wounded from the social scars it left on America. I guarantee a fat lip, bruised eye, and trip to the hospital, at the very least, if you were to walk up to anyone in this country and ask them to be your slave. We are people who put a large emphasis on personal worth. The key thing I learned last night was that Jesus was able to serve as a slave because He was confident in who He was through God the Father. We can have similar confidence, I say similar because we cannot be confident like Jesus because, well, we aren’t God basically. Jesus could care less about personal worth, He did not gain His identity and confidence form outer sources, but was confident in God. May you be confident in who God has made you, be confident in your worth to Him and be able to lower yourself as a servant to men. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. May you know Jesus has given us all authority in His name, that we are children of God and are going to be reunited with our maker one day and because of this may you wash the feet of our broken world and go about serving them with the heart of a humble slave.

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