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Walking Into Servanthood

Jesus wash feet

Tuesday, March 31st

Walking Into Servanthood
John 13:1-17

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”  Luke 18:14b

Jesus was a King. He was God living on earth yet He walked everywhere He went. He had no fancy carriage and no palace in which to sleep. Jesus and His disciples slept under the stars and ate whatever they could find. Yet they never went without. Jesus came to earth to demonstrate God’s love for all people by meeting them where they were.

Jesus welcomed children, fed the hungry, healed the sick and lame and loved everyone, no matter their occupation or the sins they had committed. He expected them (and us) to follow His example.

Perhaps one of the greatest acts of servanthood Jesus showed was at their Passover supper the night He was betrayed.

In John 13 we read that as the meal was being served Jesus got up from the meal and removed His outer clothing. He picked up a towel, tied it around His waist and poured water into a basin. Jesus then began to wash the feet of His disciples, drying them with the towel tied around his waist.

There is great significance in this.

First – We just discussed that Jesus and His disciples walked everywhere they went. If they wore shoes at all they were likely only a form of sandals designed to protect the bottom of their feet from rocks and other debris. They were held on by cloth or leather strips, barely covering the tops of their feet as they walked along the dusty roads. Their feet were constantly filthy. Only an individual themself or a servant would wash his or her feet.

Second – A king was dressed in robes and splendor. Jesus never did wear the kingly robes he deserved, and He removed the only robe He was wearing and replaced it with a towel tied around His waist just as a servant would have worn.

Third – Jesus did the unthinkable. He bent down to His disciples, kneeling before them to wash their feet. This posture of kneeling before someone was again what a servant would do to a master. Not a posture fit for a King.

Some of Jesus’s disciples argued with Him. Imagine if you had spent the day walking through a muddy field or down a dusty dirt road wearing open sandals. You arrive home to find someone famous whom you really admire waiting for you with a bowl of water and a towel ready to wash your feet. Would you be excited, or embarrassed? Most of us would want to run around to the back entrance, hop in the shower and clean up before this person could see us. It was the same way with the disciples.

The lesson Jesus was trying to get across is that it doesn’t matter what position you hold or how much money is in your bank account. It’s irrelevant how many Facebook friends you have or if you rub shoulders with influential people. The only thing that matters to God is how far you are willing to go to show love to others.

Jesus knelt before them and washed their feet.

Jesus allowed His enemies to mock Him, beat Him and whip Him until He could barely stand.

Then Jesus gave His life for His friends. That includes you and me.

 

If the creator of the world did all of this for us, is it too much for Him to ask us to humble ourselves before others?

 

I’m going to ponder this today…and hopefully put it into action.

 

Prayer

Jesus, you gave us such a beautiful example of loving others. Everywhere You went kindness and mercy flowed from You. Never were you too busy for someone in need and never were You too important for even the least of society. The desire of my heart is to replicate this way of life but I fail more than I succeed. Lord, today show me how I can be more like You. May Your kindness and humility show through me and if others ask about my actions may I lovingly and humbly point them to you.

Posted in Easter, Uncategorized

Palm Sunday – It All Started With Hosanna

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
  John 12:12-13

Palm ProcessionIt all started with “Hosanna”.

Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, a very important holiday for the Jewish people. It is at Passover that Jews celebrate their freedom from slavery in Egypt.

A brief history lesson:

God’s people had been slaves in Egypt for generations. What began as an invitation by Pharaoh for Joseph and his family to share the Egyptian land turned into fear. Joseph and all of his brothers had died and a new Pharaoh came to power. He saw how numerous the Israelite nation was and was worried that the Israelites would someday side with Egypt’s enemies in a war…and he would be out of a job, or worse yet, killed.

To prevent this from happening the Egyptians became slave masters over God’s people and forced them to hard labor with little or no pay. They lived this way for over 400 years until God provided a way out for them.

One night the Israelites were instructed to kill a lamb without any deformities and paint its’ blood over the doorposts of their home. The angel of death visited the land of Egypt that night and killed every firstborn son. Those with lamb’s blood on their doorpost would be spared.

That very night God’s people left Egypt under God’s protection and found freedom from the Egyptians. They were no longer slaves but were free to worship their Lord in their own land.

Every year this freedom is remembered and celebrated in the homes of Jewish families and for some it is a time of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the geographical center of the Jewish faith. This was also true in Jesus’ time.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt that day He was celebrated. People waved palm branches and laid them and garments on the ground for His donkey to walk on. This was a custom when welcoming someone of high honor.

Palm Sunday

People had been following Jesus everywhere He went for years, but He had recently raised Lazarus from the dead and many more who saw or heard what He had done now followed Him into Jerusalem shouting praises to Him and declaring, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Only Jesus knew the truth of what this week held. He would perform more miracles and teach His disciples more about loving, serving, and sacrifice. But riding on that donkey Jesus knew many of the same people singing His praises would desert Him. They wouldn’t understand the sacrifice He was about to make that would give them a new freedom.

He knew before the week was over they would be calling out, “Crucify Him!”

And Jesus knew He would give His life for each one of them.

Jesus’ life had been perfect (just as the lamb at the Passover celebration) so He was the only one who could serve as a sacrifice for us. While He disagreed with the religious leaders and some of the laws of the land Jesus never sinned. He took with Him to the cross the sins of every man, woman and child who ever lived or ever will live.

It can be easy to praise God and welcome Jesus as leader of our lives when we see miracles and other good things happen in our lives. It’s also easy to turn away from Him when we don’t understand how He will bring good from a difficult situation.

As we enter Holy Week and reflect on the last days of Jesus before His ultimate sacrifice may we examine our hearts and ask ourselves if we believe without reservation. Will we stand and proclaim Jesus is Lord through it all?

blessings and peace to you on this Palm Sunday,
Paula

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Are You Prepared?

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

 

How do you spend the days before a holiday or special event? Mine are usually filled with lists, shopping, decorating and baking. I want to make sure everything is just right for the special day.

Passover was a time of preparation as well. There was cleansing, choosing a lamb and preparing food for the feasts. I imagine there were plenty of lists and worries over everything being just right.

This year Jesus was trying to prepare His disciples for what they were about to experience. This Passover would be different but they didn’t realize it yet. Jesus told them parables but they didn’t understand what He was trying to say. He even told them that one of them would betray Him and send their Savior and friend to His death but still they were unclear.

jesus-teaching-in-temple

Maybe the disciples were not truly listening to Jesus closely enough to figure out the intent of His parables. Perhaps they believed He would explain them later when all the other people had gone.

Or possibly some of them did begin to understand what Jesus was preparing them for but were too afraid to believe it really could happen. There could have been a sense of denial as well. They may have said to themselves, “Maybe this one time Jesus could be wrong.”

When all that Jesus was trying to prepare them for did come to pass the disciples found themselves unprepared and unable to process it all. They weren’t ready to move on and see what God had for them next.

What about us? Have you ever found yourself at a place of uncertainty, unprepared for what comes next? I know I have and sometimes I look back and see how God had been trying to prepare me only I wasn’t paying attention or didn’t want to hear what He had to say.

Thankfully, while the circumstances the disciples found themselves in left them without Jesus for a time that never has to happen to us.

Jesus and His Holy Spirit are always with us to guide and direct us, giving us wisdom beyond our own. He will take our fear and turn it to confidence and joy.

We need only ask.

If you’re facing uncertainty today and it’s unclear what your next step should be I encourage you to take some time to sit quietly and seek God’s guidance. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you, and be open to His leading. Prepare your heart to be ready to hear from Him.

I guarantee you will.

Posted in Uncategorized

The New Sacrifice

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”    Luke 19:38

Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, a very important holiday for the Jewish people. It is at Passover that Jews celebrate their freedom from slavery in Egypt.

God’s people had been slaves in Egypt for generations. What began as an invitation by Pharaoh for Joseph and his family to share the Egyptian land turned into fear. Joseph and all of his brothers had died and a new Pharaoh came to power. He saw how numerous the Israelite nation was and was worried that the Israelites would someday side with Egypt’s enemies in a war…and he would be out of a job, or worse yet, killed.

To prevent this from happening the Egyptians became slave masters over God’s people and forced them to hard labor with little or no pay. They lived this way for generations until God provided a way out for them.

One night the Israelites were instructed to kill a lamb without any deformities and paint its’ blood over the doorposts of their home. The angel of death visited the land of Egypt that night and killed every firstborn son. Those with lamb’s blood on their doorpost would be spared.

That very night God’s people left Egypt under God’s protection and found freedom from the Egyptians. They were no longer slaves but were free to worship their Lord in their own land.

leaving_egypt

Every year this freedom is remembered and celebrated in the homes of Jewish families and for some it is a time of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the geographical center of the Jewish faith. This was also true in Jesus’ time.

Remember reading about when Jesus was very young and He taught in the temple? This was during Passover. His family had returned to Jerusalem for the festival that year as well.

This year Jesus knew Passover would be different.

He entered Jerusalem on a colt and was surrounded by hundreds or perhaps thousands of people. People had been following Jesus everywhere He went for years, but just a short time before this Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Many who saw or heard what He had done now followed Him into Jerusalem, shouting praises to Him and declaring, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

jesus_donkey

In just a few days many of these same people would desert Jesus. They wouldn’t understand the sacrifice He was about to make that would give them a new freedom.

Jesus’ life had been perfect (just as the lambs at the Passover celebration) so He was the only one who could serve as a sacrifice for us. While He disagreed with the religious leaders and some of the laws of the land Jesus never sinned. He took with Him to the cross the sins of every man, woman and child who ever lived or ever will live.

It can be easy to praise God and welcome Jesus as leader of our lives when we see miracles and other good things happen in our lives. It’s also easy to turn away from Him when we don’t understand how He will bring good from a difficult situation.

As we enter Holy Week and reflect on the last days of Jesus before His ultimate sacrifice may we examine our hearts and ask ourselves if we believe without reservation. Will we stand and proclaim Jesus is Lord through it all?