Series: Easter: This Changes Everything
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Bec Reid
Live Adventure: Jess Lee
Live Beyond: Art Preuss
Live Purpose: Don Pate
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: John 13:1-17 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: After taking on a Gentile servant’s role (no Jewish servant would wash a master’s feet—see this video), Jesus promised to bless the disciples whenever they followed His example (John 13:17). Being “blessed” (Greek: makariori) can refer to the experience of happiness (makar means “happy”). All of us know the positive feelings that accompany acts of service. Perhaps this is why Christians aren’t the only ones doing good in the world. Even atheists regularly demonstrate kindness towards those who need their assistance and serve communities well. It makes them happy. I will address some important distinctions between beneficence and service as modeled by Christ in tomorrow’s reflection (watch the video below for a preview).
As Christians, we should not be surprised that God originally wired humans to serve and find fulfilment in seeking the welfare of others. To be created in God’s image means representing God to the world, just like kings/emperors had images as representations of themselves throughout their kingdoms/empires. God is love. Therefore to be truly human (to be God’s representatives) is to love and serve others. Self-centeredness has infected humanity and caused all kinds of misery, the opposite of happiness. God wants to renew our hearts so we can become genuinely human again as His image bearers. Our creator stoops low to wash our feet so we can wash one another’s feet in response to what He did for us.
In Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, N.T. Wright observes
When human beings give their heartfelt allegiance to and worship that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God. One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sex objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch. (p. 182)
Those who worship the God who washes feet will increasingly define themselves in terms of servanthood and treat other people as human beings to be loved.
Recalibrate: How does worshiping the God who washes feet change the terms by which you define yourself? What does it mean to be genuinely human?
Respond: Look for an opportunity to do or say something kind today. Pay attention to how you feel afterwards.
Research: Watch this short fascinating lecture on footwashing in Middle Eastern culture.
Remember: “Then He poured water into a bowl and began to wash the followers’ feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around Him” (John 13:5, ICB).
Sam Millen is the pastor at Anacortes Adventist Fellowship in Washington State. He his wife Angie is a schoolteacher on Orcas Island and their three children are really awesome!
Ask your little one to get a shallow glass bowl or a drinking glass so they can see the action in today’s task easily. Find some baking soda and vinegar from your pantry or cupboard and allow them to measure about five tablespoons into your container of choice. Ask them to watch how the vinegar will transform the baking soda into a new substance that can overflow out of the container. Be liberal with the vinegar and see how your little one will squeal with excitement as the substance rises up in the container and over the edges, spilling out onto the counter. The love of Christ is just like the vinegar. It transforms us and His love is hard to contain when we are transformed into a new “substance.” Ask your little one how Jesus’ love can overflow in our lives.
Think about your class. Do you have boys and girls in your class?Do you have kids with black hair, blonde hair, red hair or maybe purple hair? Do you have kids from different countries? Does your teacher treat you all the same? It didn’t matter to Jesus if someone was old, young, sick, blind, or from another country. He loved them all and showed them all kindness and compassion.
I can just imagine the disciples were all talking among themselves and some were keeping a close eye on Jesus. I believe Jesus was just soaking in the moment, knowing what was about to happen, was waiting to see if His disciples would say or do something and then . . . . Jesus gets to His feet, takes a towel, wraps it around His waist and heads over to where the disciples were most likely already reclining at the dinner table and begins to wash their feet. Remember what Mary did in our story from last week? Now Jesus was doing the very same thing she did, but without the costly perfume. What is missing in this current scene in the story?
Let’s get real: The work that Jesus was about to begin was usually left for the servants in the house to perform to the guests. Jesus, was the leader. Jesus is the leader. What lessons can you take from Jesus’ example of being humble enough to take the role of a servant and wash the disciples’ feet?
Just about anyone who gets near Christianity is introduced, pretty quickly, to the “thief on the cross.” It really is an amazing little vignette in the story of Jesus. Here, Jesus’ “last friend on earth,” was a common criminal who actually “deserved” crucifixion. (He even admitted that!) But what most people don’t catch is that Luke isn’t the only one who speaks of that man—Matthew does too but it’s in a surprising manner. Luke tells us that the man ultimately expressed admiration for Jesus but Matthew tells you that was only at the end of the day. When the whole experience began the “repentant thief” was cussing and screaming and taunting just like his compatriot on the other side! Matthew says they both “railed against Jesus” initially but observing Jesus on the cross through the day, the man melted. We should not be surprised. A good look at Jesus on the cross is supposed to do that to all of us.
Bec Reid is a real estate agent within her family business. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and is a part of the Wahroonga Adventist Church community.
Jess Lee is an education consultant for the New South Wales Adventist education system. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and attends Kellyville Church.
Art Preuss pastors in Massachusetts at the Springfield, Florence, and Warren Adventist churches and serves in the U. S. Air Force Reserve as a chaplain.
Don Pate is “retired” in Tennessee after decades of teaching and pastoring but is still active in speaking and creating for the Kingdom.