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 Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I enjoyed Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message:
Peter persisted, ‘You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!’ Jesus said, ‘If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.’ ‘Master!’ said Peter. ‘Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!’ Jesus said, ‘If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene.’(John 13:8–12a)
As Ken Bailey pointed out in the video posted at the end of yesterday’s reflection, it is often easier to serve than to accept the service of others. Serving puts us in a position of strength while a willingness to receive service from others requires humility and can be perceived as weakness.
In an online post, Seang Pin shares some profound thoughts from the late Sri Lankan theologian, Daniel Thambyrajah Niles:
He was a true servant because He was at the mercy of those whom He came to serve. . . . This weakness of Jesus, we His disciples must share. To serve from a position of power is not true service but beneficence.
The first “mission trip” in Christian history was the sending out of the twelve disciples recorded in Mark 6.7–13. The disciples were commanded to, ‘take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.’ (Mark 6.8-9)
A babe in a manger is an ultimate example of one who comes in need of those to whom he or she comes. The incarnation affirms this profound theology . . .
In our day, a style of mission appears to continue to flow from the developed nations to the developing world that affirms the strength of the giver and the weakness of the receiver. We in the West go with our technology, which often is the point of our greatest strength and often reflects the developing world’s greatest weakness. This tends to stimulate pride in the giver and humiliation in the receiver.
Herein lies a tension between two positions. On the one hand, many readily take advantage of their neighbors’ generous impulses, but others simply cannot swallow their pride to accept any help whatsoever. Perhaps it is their attempt to avoid feeling indebted and the inevitable shift in the power dynamic of a relationship. When I was sponsored to study at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI, I was in a position (of relative strength) to help a classmate and her family who were experiencing financial hardship. But the money was promptly returned. That family would rather face privation than receive assistance (a position of perceived weakness). We often quote this line from Jesus, “Give, and you will receive” (see Luke 6:38, NLT). However, it is also true that we cannot give unless we receive.
Regarding the “thorn” in his flesh Paul wanted removed, he writes, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV).
As Jesus demonstrated, weakness leads to true service.
Recalibrate: Have you ever experienced rejection when offering a gesture of goodwill? How did it feel? Why do you think the other person refused to accept your kind deed?
Respond: Reflect on Ellen White’s comment regarding Peter’s struggle which led to his downfall the next evening: “The evil that led to Peter's fall and that shut out the Pharisee from communion with God is proving the ruin of thousands today. There is nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency. Of all sins it is the most hopeless, the most incurable” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 154)
Research: Read Seang Pin’s online post.
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!
With your little one show what it is to serve as an act of worship. Ask them to help you take out the trash or do the dishes and enjoy every minute of it together. We are told to do these things as if we were doing them for our heavenly father (Col 3:23). Show your little one how serving is what we are designed to do.
When Jesus was helping others and showing compassion He was teaching His disciples and us to be humble. Do you know what it means to be humble? Being humble means thinking more of others than yourself. It means not bragging or being selfish. Read Proverbs 27:2: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” God wants us to be humble and let others praise us, instead of bragging about ourselves.
Peter would have none of it: “How dare you wash me!” I can see the tension being so thick you could cut it with a knife. Peter has a puzzled look on his face, “How . . . ? Why . . . ? What in the world are you doing?” Jesus’ response is great: “What I am doing now, you do not understand.” Wait, what? Peter “understood” exactly what Jesus was doing. Washing their feet was tradition! Everybody knew it was not Jesus’ job or place to wash His disciples’ feet. How could Peter not understand? Jesus was demonstrating an act of kindness and Peter was too proud to allow Jesus to teach him a lesson. This was a lesson in humility. The truest humility is to receive with a thankful heart anything that is being provided on our behalf, and with sincere conviction to do service for Christ.
Let’s get real: Think of a time that you received something and you were not really humble about it. Is that how we, as God’s children, should demonstrate His character? Explain yourself.
Last year I was asked to speak for a Good Friday service at a magnificent, brand new thirty-two million dollar church. It was an interdenominational event and I was honored to be part of it. They asked me to open up one area of the crucifixion that most people have not considered and that, to me, was easy: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” That sentence by itself is breathtaking but it actually isn’t the whole truth. The reality is that Jesus is more than willing to forgive even in the times when we know exactly what we are doing. We know His will and we want it our way—yet He still is willing to forgive. That is astounding but it perfectly fulfills the claim of I John 2:1: “If anyone sins they have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Looking at that kind of grace and love kind of makes you want to not sin, right?
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.