Letters to the Prison - Week 152

Hello, everyone!  We’re studying John 13.  If you need a Bible, ask for one!  Last week, after some back-and-forth debate, Peter agreed to allow Jesus to wash his feet.  Jesus has much to say about this act:
  • 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? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. -John 13:12-15

These are some pretty clear and straight-forward statements which, by now, should come as no surprise to us.  Jesus is acknowledging and confirming that, yes, he is indeed Teacher and Lord.  He recognizes that the disciples believe this about him, and he affirms their belief.  We also see that, as Teacher and Lord, Jesus has given all who obey him an example to follow in this low, humble act of washing the disciples’ feet.  The imperative to obey this example is so urgent, so important, that Jesus will reinforce it with the 18th “truly truly” statement recorded by John:
  • 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. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. -John 13:16-17

When Jesus says “truly, truly” it’s time to listen!  Jesus’ words are quite plain here:  Those who follow Jesus and acknowledge him as Teacher and Lord should never feel “greater” than their Master who sent them to the degree that they feel justified in not “washing one another’s feet” when the clear example is that they should do precisely that.  Jesus then follows with a promise:  Those who know these things and do them will be blessed.  Knowing what we should do isn’t enough.  James, Jesus’ half-brother, would affirm this very thing in his letter:
  • But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. -James 1:22-25

So, what to do is clear… and to disobey means that we feel “greater” than our Master, Jesus.  Hearing and not doing becomes a matter of pride, then.  Our refusal to follow Jesus’ example and “wash one another’s feet” puts us higher than God, in our own esteem.  What Jesus has freely chosen to do is somehow “beneath us,” and so we see fit to ignore or refuse to follow his example.  It is a terribly prideful thing to refuse to do what the God of the Universe has freely chosen to do as an example for us.  But what precisely has Jesus done?  We just saw what James wrote about “persevering” as we work to be “doers” of God’s “perfect law” –the “law of liberty.”  What does it mean to choose to “wash one another’s feet” in obedience to the “law of liberty?”  Like many things we’re seeing in this study, we could spend a long time thinking about this.  And we should.  And we will… next week!  We love you.

Dean A.

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