Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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April 27 – Served By Jesus, And Serving Others In Love

“Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you 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.'”  John 13:7-10

Devotional Thought For The Day

This somewhat cryptic exchange precedes what Jesus went on to explain to His disciples, that they were to serve others just as He had served them.  This includes everything – even washing the feet of fellow disciples. In that most of us wear shoes these days, and wash our own feet frequently when we shower, there isn’t a whole lot of call for this service to one another – except perhaps among the elderly and infirm. However, there is an obvious deeper meaning that Jesus makes clear to Peter.

It is a difficult statement that Jesus makes: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” We prefer to keep ourselves clean, but we cannot, at least not spiritually.  “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” [Rom. 3:23] “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” [1 John 1:8]  “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” [Rom. 7:18,19] Only Jesus can “cleanse” us from all of this, and He does: “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” [1 John 1:7] And He Himself commands us: “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” [Matt. 26:27,28] But unless we allow Jesus to wash and cleanse us with His blood, we have no share with Him.

This is the context for what Jesus goes on to instruct His disciples to be doing:  “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.” [John 13:14,15] We ordinarily jump right into the issue of serving one another – though actual “foot washing” usually doesn’t arise on our radar. However, we might want to look at the context, what precedes the application, so that we get to the real gist of Christian serving. And that is the matter of Jesus washing us, so that we have a “share” with Him. This is the first priority – bringing people to the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, so that they too may have a “share” with Him. For the one who has no share in Jesus, the one who does not believe the Son, and will not allow Jesus to wash him, “shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” [John 3:36]

The second principle application of Jesus’ instructions would be our forgiving of one another – and this too is at the heart of all relationships and also the life of the church. Too often we get our noses bent and our perspective twisted so that we justify holding grudges and even malice toward others. But this negates coming to Jesus for cleansing – it is implementing a different standard of relationship than He has established with us. So our first priority in serving others is this matter of forgiving them just as we have been forgiven.

Lastly, there is no question that we are to take no thought of ourselves, and certainly not pridefully consider ourselves above the lowliest service to others, but rather helping others no matter what their needs may be. There is no labor that is lowly when the outcome is the good, welfare, and blessedness of others.  The works are not judged by their nature but by what they provide, their outcome. So let us be sure to get the sequence right – Jesus washes us in His blood so that by His gracious mercy and forgiveness we have eternal life; then we bring others to Jesus for this same washing and cleansing; we also forgive one another as we have been forgiven; and we seek to serve others in love just as Jesus humbly serves us.  So He instructs us, and thus we seek to do as we follow Him.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, let me not forget how desperately I need You to wash and cleanse me every day. Let me not forget that this is the most important thing for every human being. Soften my heart with Your love that I also forgive others, always, and from the heart. Keep us humble so that we are willing and eager to serve wherever the need arises, without thought of the lowly nature of our serving. Amen.