Each week during Lent we are reflecting on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in preparation for celebrating Easter together.
A LENTEN DEVOTIONAL BY SCOTTY SMITH
What Wondrous Love Is This?
SCRIPTURE: JOHN 13:1-17
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
“There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus spoke these words to his disciples long before they would fully grasp their significance. As a precursor to the ultimate washing of their hearts, Jesus humbled himself and washed their feet. Yet this lowly act of kindness drew strong pushback from Peter.
Why do you suppose Peter was so resistant to allow Jesus to wash his feet? What do you suppose he felt in that moment? How do you think you would have responded?
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” For three years Jesus had done nothing but love this ragtag group of men—in their fears and failures, through their pettiness and in the process of their learning to trust and follow him. How has Jesus proven his love to you? When did you first come alive to Jesus’ love and grace for you?
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. As Jesus loves us, so we are to love one another. Those who are washed by Jesus’ humility and kindness, are to extend this same mercy and grace to others. Let us pray that God will make our church family a community of foot washing servants—to one another, and to those in our community. In so doing, may we make the gospel beautiful and believable.
Having loved his own who were in the world, he [Jesus] now showed them the full extent of his love. John 13:1 (NIV ‘84)
Lord Jesus, I often return to the scene from which this verse is taken, for it’s homeroom for my heart—the best place to settle and center my soul. It's the night of your betrayal—the hour you’d be abandoned, not just by Peter, but also by all the disciples. You knew the full extent of their weakness, so you showed them the full extent of your love. Washing their feet was a prelude to washing their hearts. Water sufficed for the first; your lifeblood was required for the second.
And this is precisely how you love each of us, no exceptions. Absolutely nothing can separate us from your affection, or impact the way you love us. You don't love us more when we "get it right", and you don't love us less when we “do it wrong.” That doesn't mean you're indifferent; it means you're our Savior, ever committed to showing us the full extent of your love—its width, length, height, and depth (Eph. 3:18-19).
Only your love, Jesus, can free and change us. Only your love is better than life. Only your love is enough. In my most gospel-sane moments, I know this to be true—my truest truth. Nobody or nothing has to change for us to be at peace and joyful. Forgive me for plugging my “happy-cord” into what people think, or what I have, or anything besides you.
Jesus, you are our loving Master, not our private masseur. Forgive me when I forget the first and start demanding the second. By the gospel and the truth of your Word, keep renewing my thinking every hour of every day. You are already my perfect righteousness; I long for the Day when I will be made perfect in love (1 John 3:1-3). So very Amen I pray, in your merciful and mighty name.