Thursday, October 27, 2005
The Path of blessing
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the Passover, the Passover meal, and the last supper. The Passover meal finds its way into scripture a few times after the event it celebrates which is in Exodus 12. It seems that every time the celebration is found in scripture it takes place before a significant and epic event in the life of God’s people. It’s found first in exodus 12; just before the people are freed by Pharaoh. The meal is mentioned again in Numbers chapter 9 before the people of Israel leave Sinai. It’s also in Joshua, just before Israel goes in to conquest Canaan, again in 2 Kings it’s celebrated, this time by King Josiah just before his death at Megiddo which eventually led to the fall of Israel as a Nation and to their exile in the wilderness. We then find it in a much more often quoted scripture; “The Last Supper.” Jesus gathers with His disciples to celebrate before His triumphant death on the cross.
Jesus Celebration of Passover is not unique to the celebrations mentioned throughout the scriptures in that it ushers in a new time for God’s people but is unique in a different way. Jesus does everything backwards. Jesus; the Rabbi, the head of the table bends, down and washes the feet of His disciples. As Peter said, “Lord why are you washing my feet?” he should have been washing Jesus feet.
Jesus said, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because it is true. And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing.”
Jesus, here, is demonstrating His Kingdom, the new Glorious time for God’s people, “the path of blessing.” Jesus is showing the Kingdom, revealing it. His is “not of this world”, it is one of love and service, it’s where “the first are last and the last are first.” It’s not some place or destination which we will one day enter, it’s something we live and do now.
Henri Nouwen says it best, “He wants our love to be as full, as radical, and as complete as his own. He wants us to bend ourselves to the ground and touch the places in each other that most need washing. He also wants us to say to each other, ‘Eat of me and drink of me.’ By this complete mutual nurturing, he wants us to become one body and one spirit, united by the love of God.”
On one of the first days of the YLI conference the staff gathered together and we washed each others feet. My good friend Brian made a point to wash my feet which, if you’ve ever seen or smelled my feet, you know is not something to look forward to. As he washed my feet he explained to us that serving, though essential if not definitive to following Christ, is not as glorious as we often paint it up as. It’s about touching the dirtiest places in someone’s life, the places we don’t even want to know are there. It was an experience I will not soon forget. Brian was, as Jesus did, showing me the Kingdom of God. It wasn’t just about getting my feet clean, it was about understanding the depth of imitating Christ. I saw a glimpse of heaven that day.
We are not called to be just a social community we are called to live out the Kingdom of God, the life we can now live because of Jesus, washing each other’s feet. When we live in a community like that nothing can prevail against it, spoil it, screw it up, or end it. It’s a community that goes on eternally. This kind of life brings us to the life of God’s original intention, completely at harmony. The “path of blessing,” is when our love is as "full, as radical, and as complete as His own."
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The most interesting thing of this type of worship (yes, washing another's feet is a type of worship...) is that it is equally humbling for both parties involved.
To wash another's feet is humbling. But to be the one whose feet are being washed is even more humbling.
It can be very difficult being served.
It is so important that we remember what the true meaning of all of these things are. The picture you shared with us from the TEAM conference is a beautiful one. I remember as Brian was washing your feet, and all he said about going to the deepest dirtiest places in the lives of thoes around us made it all so real. Great post Wes!
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