Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
This is such a poignant moment for the disciples, a sort of initiation into the ministry and character of Jesus to which he had invited his disciples. The visual of Jesus dressed as a servant, the act of washing their feet, the engagement with Peter, assuring him that he was already clean but there was the daily cleansing that was needed. And Jesus’ willingness to even wash the feet of the one who would betray him.
- What did Jesus know about Himself that inspired him to wash his disciples’ feet?
- How does your identity in Christ free you to take the role of a servant?
- How would you feel if Jesus wanted to wash your feet? What do you believe about Him or yourself that would make it easy or difficult?
Gracious Jesus, as we read of your loving service to your followers, we are humbled by your character and the character of your ministry to which you invite us. Instill in us a confidence that is rooted in you that allows us to go into the world as servants to one another and to those who so desperately need to be served. Knowing that in you we are worthy, help us to treat others as worthy of your love as well. In Your name, Amen.
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
With the washing of his disciples’ feet, Jesus begins to bring together the characteristics of the Kingdom. He has taken the form of a servant and reminds them that to call him Teacher and Lord is to learn from him and to emulate him. A part of that is humbly serving one another in ways that refresh and encourage.
- What have you learned from Jesus that has impacted the way you treat others?
- What does it look like for you to exercise humility in your relationships with others?
- What does calling Jesus Teacher and Lord mean to you today?
Jesus, thank you that you never ask us to do what you have not already done. As we live in this world, help us to reflect your character of humble leadership that shows itself in faithful service to others. Give us eyes to see how we can serve those around us and the courage to do it. In Your name, Amen.
18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. 20 Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” 21 After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23 One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
Imagine Jesus reclining at the table with those he loved, his closest companions in ministry, knowing that one of them would betray him. At first he wants them to know so that when it occurs, they will believe. But then his emotions get the best of him as he experiences the grief that one whom he loves and has poured his life into will turn him over to be killed.
- When have you been overwhelmed by emotions brought on by betrayal or disappointment?
- What do you think Jesus was troubled about most – the betrayal or the road to his death? Or something else?
- Imagine sitting at the table? What emotions would you experience as you watched Jesus break down? What would you say to him?
Gracious Lord, you came to earth as a human, intent on your purpose but also with the capacity to feel the weight of humanity. You exemplify for us the capacity to grieve while at the same time stay present with what is before us. Give us the grace to embrace all that we are as humans and offer ourselves up to you for your glory and for the sake of others. In Your Name, Amen.
31 When (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In this liminal space between his earthly ministry and his journey to the cross, Jesus takes this moment to define what the glory of God looks like. He lets his disciples know that what he is doing next is something he must do alone. There is a limit to what his followers can do and it stops at saving others. But he does leave them with something they can do, and that is to love one another.
- Where do you see the glory of God in what is unfolding in Jesus’ life?
- Are there times when you are distracted with things you cannot do, things that are in God’s hands alone?
- How does your love for others reflect your commitment to following Jesus?
Gracious God, this is a powerful turning point in your story of salvation. Thank you for doing what we could never do on our own. Keep us from being distracted by the things that are outside our control and help us to focus on what you have called us to do – to love one another. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 13: 36-38
36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.
It would seem that Peter missed Jesus’ command to love because he was focused on what was for Jesus alone to do. Fear of missing out, perhaps? He was bold in his intentions, but Jesus knew that he would not be able to follow through. Jesus also knows our limits and invites us to live and thrive in the reality of who we are, where we are.
- Is there a time when you have had great intentions but not followed through? What do you hear Jesus saying to you in that experience?
- How is Jesus inviting you to be present in your current circumstances, leaving Jesus’ work up to him?
- What does following Jesus look like today?
Gracious Jesus, there is so much around us that is certainly outside our control, and it is easy to be consumed with things that are not ours to do. Help us not to make promises to ourselves and you that we are not able to keep, but to live in the reality of who we are and what you are asking us to do today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.