Holiness, righteousness, even purity are not words or concepts in society, but love is in the air.
“All you need is love…” to
“What’s love got to do with it, what’s love but a second hand emotion."
“How deep is your love?” is a good question to ask. Superficial, shallow. Fickle.
“I will always love you..” Great sentiment- but all too often not reality.
“I want to know what love is…”
Because love is all around us, we have to ask who is teaching us about love. Who is shaping my understanding of what love is?
Home and Away?
Maybe staff in tea room?
I want to know what love is!
Jesus gives the disciples and us the answer to what lies behind that request. He gives a Masterclass in self-giving love.
Demonstration of love
God is love. He doesn’t sing “I want to know what love is”. Doesn’t have to learn about love. He doesn’t need instruction, nor need to improve. His inherent nature is to love, love perfectly. The very reason Jesus performs this Masterclass of love by washing feet is precisely because he is leaving this world and returning to the Father. Before he leaves, they need to know they are loved and to know what love is- God-style.
God is love. We are children of God, and so characterised as those who love, known for love.
We can be very selective when it comes to love - who we will extend love and kindness to. Particularly the hard love - forgiveness. Helping someone at the expense of our time, energy/ health; money.
We can be selective as to how much we will go out of our way - limited self-sacrifice.
We can be selective of whom we will act towards in love, but others we refuse/ avoid/ can’t be bothered- make excuses.
Jesus’ masterclass in self-giving love- smashes this selectivity - Jesus knew these men whose feet he washed. He knows Judas will betray him v2, yet he still washes his feet.
He knows Peter will deny him, all of them will scatter and abandon him - still he washes their feet.
Washing feet is the job of the lowest rank servant. It's a slaves role. "Hey boy wash my feet. Right move off now!"
We pick and choose who we’ll love. With the cross before him, Jesus bends down and washes the feet of the betrayer.
Community of love.
The main point in this masterclass is the statement vs14 “If I have washed your feet, you also ought to wash… one another’s feet.”
Note, he doesn’t say “See I have washed your feet… now you ought to wash mine.”
It is quite possible that Matthew, Peter or Andrew would not have had any problem or hesitation in washing the feet of Jesus, if he asked them. He is the Master, their Rabbi. The problem, the hesitation or even refusal might be in John washing Matthew’s feet, or Andrews washing the Zealot’s feet. This lesson is not them washing Jesus feet in return, but washing one another’s feet. Therein is the tension. That‘s the challenge. Pay it forward. If the master, teacher and Lord can stoop to love them in that way, how much so they with one another. They can’t think themselves so high and mighty not to serve, help, love one another.
Christianity is not just “me and Jesus”, he cleans me, saves me, forgives me and I pray to him and sing to him and worship him. We could have worship where you come in your own time, when it suits, doors always open, come in and sit as an individual, in the pew, have a video sermon on loop, sit and listen to God, have your own prayer, sing to the soundtrack and then walk out. Just Jesus and me.
God is love. God is a community of love. A community of 3 persons who know & love. Love has been existing and expressed between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, from eternity past, before Gen 1:1.
“The life of the Triune God is characterised not by self-centredness but by mutually self-giving love. Each person of the Trinity loves, adores, defers to and rejoices in the others…none demands that the others revolve around him.” Tim Keller
An eternal, Triune community of love, descended in the person of Jesus, sent by the God the Father, anointed by the God the Holy Spirit. The descended to broken, self-serving humanity. For Jesus to live a life of love, to show what it is for a real human to love.
Salvation, God’s restoration of a sinful human race, is not merely re-connecting individuals to God, but bringing them back to God’s design as his image bearers. We are to bear the image of God. God who exists in a community of love. We are to be a community of love. Get on our knees and wash one another’s feet.
“One another” emphasis is key to Christianity because it is central to who God is.
“The world was made by a God who is a community of persons who have loved each other for all eternity. You were made for mutually self-giving, other directed love. Self-centredness destroys the fabric of what God has made.” Tim Keller
“You will never get a sense of self by making everything revolve around your needs and interests. Unless you are willing to experience the loss of options and the individual limitation that comes from being in committed relationships, you will remain out of touch with your own and the nature of things.” Tim Keller
Before he leaves, Jesus gives a lesson to all disciples so they know that they are to love one another, not just Jesus & me.
Knowledge to love
Christian love to other Christian’s is not piece of cake. There are annoying ones, loud ones, overly worrying ones. Christians who always turn up late. Christians who are fussy, tense about people being on time, those that appear lazy for church rosters, those who have to be involved in everything.
I don’t want to wash their feet. I don’t want to have them in my home for a meal. I’m not going to forgive them. My love is selective. I give them some money, but I’m not getting underneath their house. I’ll send a cake (which they don’t need) but I’m not going to sit with them at the hospital clinic. My love is selective.
We can’t be all things to all people, but Jesus isn’t overly focused on the actual act of foot washing. It’s the principle of loving others who we don’t necessarily feel drawn to help. Loving people when it looks like we’re demeaning ourselves.
How do we do this? The importance of vs 3. You could skip 3 and go from 2 to 4.
During supper Jesus got up and washed their feet. Lose none of Jesus’ action. But v 3 gives us Jesus’ mind.
During supper, because he knew the Father had given him all things, from God and returning to God.