Dear Loved One,
As my 80th birthday approaches, I am deeply humbled to find myself spoken of as a spiritual father. That isn’t due to any achievement on my part—it is the grace of God—but it does indicate a time in my life and my years.
The apostle John would have been a little bit older than I am right now when he wrote his Gospel, and this Easter season, it’s out of that book of Scripture that I want to speak to you. We’re in the 13th chapter. It is Passover, the night before the Crucifixion, and John is relating how Jesus gave what is sometimes called the 11th commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34-35).
If asked, most believers will say that to love as Jesus did has to do with His dying on the Cross for us. But Jesus is speaking in the past tense; He’s not going to die until the next day. We don’t need anyone else to die on our behalf; it isn’t a qualification for discipleship. The love Jesus is talking about has to do with a servant heart and what has just taken place following the Passover meal: The Messiah, the living God, has knelt and washed the feet of His disciples.
It was a tradition of the culture that when a guest arrived, a servant would be provided to wash their feet of dust and dirt—the things they’d walked through that day. But this night, the Lord of heaven and earth kneels before each of His disciples to wash their feet. He does it to solidify all that He has poured into them for three years, and to cultivate a caring people who are not so self-important they don’t have the time or patience to serve others with the same love that He is now showing to them. It’s highly significant that Jesus is also washing the feet of the disciple who would betray Him.
Jesus commands His disciples to be dominated by the Spirit of love and forgiveness, and to be willing to care for a broken world. He calls us to “wash feet” because it’s not until we get down to see where people have walked—and what kinds of heartbreak, disappointment and brokenness are clinging to them—that we live out His commandment to love one another as He has loved us.
I pray this truth takes root in your life, loved one. And I’d like you to have the opportunity to hear the entire message I recently preached on it, “The Life That Lasts.” It is our gift to you this month on DVD or CD in thanks for your gracious support.
Let’s seek to be known by our love,