Power! What an attractive ‘commodity’. It takes many forms – muscular power, financial power, word power, and nuclear power – to mention but a few. My horse has amazing power. If he wanted to he could easily throw me off and stomp all over me. But I control that power by the reins in my hands. My motorcycle has a lot more power – over 150 horse power. It can accelerate so rapidly that it feels like my arms are being stretched. It’s exhilarating to hold such power in my hands - available simply by twisting my right wrist!
In our Bible passage today we read that ‘the Father had put all things under Jesus’ power’. In the Greek it says ‘all things were in his hands’. Jesus is the most powerful being in the whole universe! Everything is under His power! Wow! So what does He do with all that power?
The context of this passage – John 13 – is that Jesus is sharing the Passover meal with His disciples. We read that the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot to betray him. Jesus knows the time has come. He knows He has come from the Father and is soon to return to Him. Jesus also knows that He has all power in his hands. Again the question – what does He do with all that power?
Verse 4 starts with ‘So he...’ Studying this verse recently I was stunned. So He what…? He strips down to His undergarments and washes their feet! Even the feet of the betrayer! Astounding! The one who has all power bestowed upon Him acts like a servant – and washes His followers’ dirty feet. What an amazing overturning of what we consider the exercising of great power should look like. What is on view here is twofold.
Firstly, Jesus, showing the full extent of His love in the symbolic action of foot-washing, is giving a preview of the great sacrificial act of cleansing that He is about to do (John 13:1). Soon He will be crucified on a cross – His shed blood will be the means of cleansing all human beings from their sin. In Mark 13:10 this is summarised, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”.
Secondly, as He himself told his disciples, Jesus is giving us an example of humble service – love in action, which we are to follow (John 13:14-7). Power is to be expressed in service. Great power is to be exercised through sacrificial love. ‘Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them’ (John 13:17).
Prayer: O Lord Jesus, I thank You so much for dying for me. Thank You that You humbled Yourself to serve Your disciples by washing their feet, and showed me what it means to exercise power in love. Please help me to live my blood-bought life to humbly serve You and others. Amen.
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