It seems like it was just yesterday. Jesus was at a wedding with some friends and upon being asked, but not technically asked, by his mother, to do something about the wine shortage, he replies, “my time has not yet come”. Those six words will reverberate throughout the rest of John’s Gospel. Jesus, though living in time, knew there was to be an appointed time for him to do the work that all the signs he performed were pointing to.
As we venture through the Gospel of John we arrive at chapter 13 as the Feast of the Passover looms. There, in that very first verse we learn that Jesus knew his time had come.
At the wedding in Cana it was not yet his time.
At Passover in Jerusalem his time had now come.
But first, there was some work to do, some lessons to teach, some holy love to be put on full display. In verse 3, we read that Jesus knew who he was, he knew the Father had given him all things and he knew he was going back to God. It was this knowing that propelled his actions. This knowing that formed his habits. What he knew in heart, is what he lived out in his life.
This Jesus, born of a virgin, by the power of the Holy Spirit, knew he came from God, was going back to God and was given all things by God, so what does he do?
He becomes a foot washer. Wait, what?!? A foot washer? Surely, the King of Kings can do better than that! He should have people lining up to wash his feet.
Well, not so in the economy of the Kingdom. You see, Jesus is about to do some simple Kingdom math that demands our dignity, pride, and comfort scatter. Here’s the math, “Holy Love + Vibrant Intellect (Knowing) + Practical Theology = Kingdom Living”
Jesus was from God, so he was always exercising holy love, because God is love. Jesus knew he had all things, so he had a deep, vibrant intellect. Jesus also knew that God’s way was not merely believing the right things in our hearts, but doing the right things in our lives, it was practical.
The ministry of Jesus was incredibly practical. It was tangible. Things changed. His hands got dirty. His clothes got smelly. People bumped into him. His ministry was practical, not philosophical. His mouth preached sermons and his life was a sermon.
All this added up together equals Kingdom Living and Jesus, in what was most likely the most humble act he could do, washes feet to show what Kingdom Life was like. Many a Christian have come to believe that to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior means peace in heaven forever. And, yes it does. But dear fellow follower, it also means serving on earth.
Faith in Christ is not some abstract philosophy, it’s lived. It’s holy love. It’s vibrant intellect. It’s practical theology that explodes into powerful Kingdom Living that is ignited and sustained by the Holy Spirit.
Consider this, the best preacher in the entire world (He is the Word, so of course he would be the best at preaching the Word!), the miracle worker himself, would wrap up his public 3 year ministry, not by reigning hellfire and brimstone on his enemies but by wrapping a towel around his waist and washing the feet of his disciples.
What is perhaps the oldest hymn in the church isn’t found in a hymnal, it’s found in the Bible. Philippians 2:6-11 is an ancient hymn the church was singing from the get go. What is sung about Jesus in this letter, Jesus lived out in his entire life. “Taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7), as the hymn goes, is put on full display here at the washing of feet.
Back to John’s Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples in short form, “If I’ve done this, then y’all also should do this” (John 13:14).
To follow Jesus is to be transformed into holy love because we are from God. It’s to have deep intellect because we know, that we know, we are his and are free to live in him. It’s to exercise practical theology because this is what Jesus did, he didn’t just say we should serve, he served.
We do not exist in and for ourselves, we exist for God. Taking the form of a servant does not turn us into welcome mats, it transforms us and we discover our created purpose – people loved but God, who love God by serving and loving our neighbors.
His hour has come. So what does he do? He washes feet. This is Kingdom living. This is Christianity. This is the suffering servant. This is the life you and I were created, saved, and redeemed to live. To wrap up I’ll let this quote by Stephen Cottrelll preach to us.
“To look at him (Jesus) and the things he did was a healing; it was like looking in a mirror and seeing what humanity was supposed to be like and seeing yourself as you could be.”
Later that evening, Jesus would remove all wiggle room for what our lives should be in him, “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do.” (John 14:12)
+Are you doing the stuff Jesus did? If yes, what are you doing? If no, why aren’t you doing the stuff?