More than putting food on a plate and bringing it to the table.
More than doing our “duty” and fulfilling the job or role assigned to us.
Even more than giving our time to help someone in need.
Our acts of service become nothing more than a pat on the back with our own hands if we don’t see that motivation is everything.
You can check it off your “to-do” list and feel good for a moment, but if your heart is not in it, this temporary action will be nothing more than a “sounding gong or clanging symbol” that fades into eerie silence.
Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him. That all of them would desert Him and run away. That one would betray Him. And yet…
“He loved them to the end” John 13:1
Every one of the gospel accounts tell of the events just prior to Jesus being arrested and crucified. Only John records the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. I can’t help but wonder why John was the only one to tell it. Was it pride? Was it embarrassment? Or did Jesus try to show them by example only to have them walk away unchanged? Unwilling?
He washed their feet.
Let that sink in for a moment. He knew all of their weaknesses, all of their future failings, and yet… He served them anyway.
Luke’s account says that after having the Passover meal these same disciples started arguing about who was the greatest.
He had just told them, “But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves.” Luke 22:27
And in an act of humility and service,
Jesus got down on His hands and knees and washed their feet.
Because He loved them. Because He was willing to do whatever it took to show them what love looked like.
And it wasn’t just clean feet. It was about a pure heart that serves in love. Seeing beyond the pain and the filth–to the person. He knew them and loved them anyway. He showed them that true service came from a heart that loves others more than life itself.
“This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
I am guilty. Just like the disciples I can deny Him by the way I am acting. I can serve out of duty or responsibility rather than love. And I can even run away from hard things instead of sticking close to Jesus. But I know this: He loves me. Period. He calls me His child, and because He is merciful and loving, I know that He forgives me and restores me, just like He did Peter even after he had denied Him three times.
My story is not yet finished. I have no idea how it will turn out in the earthly realm, but in the heavenly realm, my future is secure.
The Suffering Servant that Isaiah prophesied about came and fulfilled His promise,
“I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness… for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:46-57
He will return one day, and whether I meet him death or in the rapture, I can have the assurance that He has saved me and called me His child. A child that He will never abandon. He will love me to the end. What a promise. A promise that inspires me to serve like He served. To love like He loves.
When you personalize the life of Jesus and see beyond the words to the motivation behind them, it changes everything.
“So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.” John 13: 14-15