Thursday, April 05, 2012
Someone you respect, you highly esteem or are in awe of, comes to you. You want to do right by them. You have been following them for some time, watching what they do, copying their actions, learning their ways and their teachings. In fact, you wish more than anything else in the world, you could be more like them.
But your grandiose ideals of them come crashing down when your hero happens to do something less than heroic. You see the weakness in the person you have lauded all this time and suddenly your world seems to be thrown into chaos as the pedestal seems to be taken out from under them. And maybe confusing too, since they themselves have deconstructed your esteemed views of them!
Perhaps it was an actor, a politician, a sportsperson, someone in the public eye who fell from your grace? Or, a friend, a school teacher, your child, your spouse, a parent, or someone personally dear to you! No matter whom it was, or still is, the wheels fall of the cart, the house of cards comes tumbling down, when the one you have exalted, begins to exhibit actions not in accord with your acclamations.
The question behind the fall from your graces is, "Why is their fall so tumultuous to my own life? Why does it cause so much trouble within my own heart and mind?"
Maybe there's a sense of betrayal! They've let you down! How could they have led you to believe they were like that! Nevertheless, you know they haven't necessarily deliberately gone out of their way to mislead you, instead you know you've allowed it to happen, perhaps even willed their glorification in your own mind. You know you should have seen it coming.
Then again, maybe the one you glorify, and the ideals you uphold, have some value to you. If I can be like them, then I too will be seen in the best light by others. Others will see me in the same way as I've seen my hero. But in their tumble you also know you too will take a fall. If they are weaker than I projected, then just maybe I am not that great either!
Do you do the same with Jesus? Do you exalt him in this world so others too might honour you? Do you seek to ride on the coattails of his glory so you too might bask in popular approval; in the church community, in righteous religious circles, and amongst those who like to be seen doing the right thing.
If you do then you are no different than Peter. When he saw Jesus humble himself, take off his clothes, take the lowest of low positions, to stoop and wash feet, Peter couldn't take it. He objected, "Lord do you wash my feet?" Peter had no idea what Jesus was doing, and during these days Peter's world became chaos, the leader he had built Jesus up to be was not who Jesus came to be, for Peter or anyone of us who follow Jesus.
We all have a faith, a belief in whom Jesus is. And like Peter we too constantly need that destroyed and broken down so Jesus can show us who he really is, and who he really calls us to be.
You see Jesus was revealing to Peter so much more than just washing someone else's feet. Yet still Peter didn't even get the simple action of Jesus' deed. Rather he calls Jesus to wash his whole body, to move the focus from Jesus' low act of servanthood to the honouring of Peter being served. Notice here that Jesus also serves Judas too. He serves all, even his betrayer.
I suppose if Jesus had told Peter more about how Peter himself was to serve God and the church, it would have been too much for Peter to accept. After all the simple act of washing some else's feet as service was throwing Peter's ideals into chaos. How much more did Jesus' arrest and crucifixion confuse and cause Peter to deny his Lord?
One must ponder Peter's reaction if he, a simple fisherman from Galilee, was told he was going to speak in tongues, call thousands to repentance, heal the lame and the sick, speak with conviction in the temple, be arrested, be miraculously freed not just once but twice, baptise Gentiles, see his fellow Apostles slain, and be martyred himself. If Peter had seen his Lord's death and his own death in Jesus' action of foot washing, I imagine it would have been too much for Peter to bear.
But Jesus just washes his feet, and the feet of the other disciples. His act of foot washing was an act of complete love. He was their Lord and Teacher, and they too were to do the same as their Lord and Teacher.
Like Peter we too are often terrified by the idea that we might be called to serve in a way with which we might not cope. When Jesus asks them to do the same, to do likewise, he ask you to do so as well. After all we're all aware of Jesus' word…
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34–35 ESV)
One should not just hear this as a nice little Sunday School song, after all it's a new commandment. I wonder how Peter felt hearing this. He had just seen Jesus wash feet, now he had to do it too. What honour is there in bowing vulnerably and washing dirty feet? How much more does this impact us now knowing the full extent of his love he calls us to have for one another extends to his death on the cross?
You too are called to love one another in the same way as Jesus Christ. Can you do it? It should trouble you because you can't! In fact no one can, none of the disciples, not you, no one! Jesus walked alone to the cross, Peter wept, Judas betrayed and the rest fled leaving him to die alone.
However, we can be thankful that God never leaves us alone. The Apostles were known to be Jesus disciples not because of their acts, but rather the acts of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not remain dead in a tomb, or descended into hell, rather God raised him, and he together with God the Father sends the Holy Spirit.
So how do you love as Jesus loved? Trust in Jesus, trust in his body broken and his blood shed, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation! We can love one another as Jesus loves us when we allow and trust the Holy Spirit to move us in the same acts of love as Jesus.
Like Peter and all the witnesses who've been sent since, you and I can only do what the Holy Spirit wills us to do. Only after Jesus' resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit was Peter able to serve and love as Jesus loved.
Therefore, through the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus washes you clean in baptism. Believe in him for cleansing, trust his word, lest you be like Judas who didn't believe in Jesus, but rather trusted in himself and even lost that trust.
You are clean; let the Holy Spirit put you on your feet, so you might be led in Christ. To serve others as he serves you. To trust the Father as he trusts the Father. To know your brokenness as he was broken. To have hope in your resurrection as he was raised. To know Jesus Christ and his love, fully, completely, eternally!Dear Lord you sent your Servant King to serve us, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts so we may believe and faithfully follow him who faithfully fulfils all righteousness for us, the same Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.