Day 23

Jesus Displays His Love

from the John reading plan

John 13:1-38, Isaiah 42:1, Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:5-11

BY Seana Scott

Teresa lived a simple life. Simmer the soup. Scrub the dishes. Hug a leper. She probably started out not imagining choosing a life of poverty and service among the poorest of the poor would turn into a world-wide religious organization. She simply served.

I think Mother Teresa’s commitment to humble service might be the essence of what Jesus taught His disciples in the upper room during the last meal before He offered His life (John 13). He took off His outer garment, grabbed a towel and basin of water, and wiped the disciples’ feet—muddy, crusty, sweaty, hairy, calloused feet—until they glistened.

Our Lord pushed his fingers in between toes to wipe away layered road refuse. Of course, Peter rebuffed the Lord washing his feet (we might too). The King of Glory soiled His hands with a task so beneath the disciples, that none of the Jesus-followers offered to wash each other before the meal. The disciples wanted positions in heaven (Luke 22:24–30), Jesus showed them the true position of the heavenly-minded.

And then Jesus told the disciples to do likewise to one another (John 13:12–17). He chose to teach humble service in His last mentorship session before His betrayal. This is like a deathbed example: love each other by serving one another humbly. 

But He didn’t just tell them—He showed them to what extent they are to love one another: to the end of life itself (Philippians 2:6–8, Mark 10:45). The power of the gospel displayed in Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension brings justice to the nations (Isaiah 42:1) through the sacrificial service of His people. He is the greatest worldwide movement of all time. 

But humbly serving our brothers and sisters in Christ—hurts sometimes. People gossip. Betray. Lobby. Judge. How can we humbly serve believers when everything in us wants to stand our ground? 

Jesus saw the sinner disciples seated at His table, but picked up the towel and the basin anyway. He plunged the cloth into the muddy water and washed the feet of Denying Peter, Doubting Thomas, and Betraying Judas. He knew they would run at His arrest (Matthew 26:56)—hide in fear after His death (John 20:19). But He humbled Himself anyway. Served anyway.

How we love our brothers and sisters in Christ may look different for each of us as we obey the Spirit’s leading. For me, right now it looks like not splurging on the new outfit so our family can support a missionary. It means holding my tongue when I want to gossip about someone at church. It looks like sacrificing an afternoon of needed chores to visit an elderly church member.

I’m not doing this perfectly, but maybe Eugene H. Peterson said it best when he said the Christian life is “long obedience in the same direction.” Whether in the slums of Kolkata or the ‘burbs in Indiana, I think Jesus’s example to the twelve belongs to us as well. Love one another through humble service—to the end. 

Post Comments (59)

59 thoughts on "Jesus Displays His Love"

  1. K Swenson says:

    Thank you for sharing this memory, Tina! Such a poignant example of loving and serving the people around us here and now. I pray Efua knew the love of the Father through at least some of her neighbors. I’m so glad that God gave you a tender heart towards her at such a young age.

  2. GramsieSue . says:

    Ladies, briefly…Steve’s neurosurgeon is confident she got all of the tumor out. She will order an MRI in the morning to verify. However, she did tell me that the pathologist said it looks like cancer. They are sending it off to be certain. I am not going to tell Steve that yet. I want him to concentrate on getting well and not on what if’s. But please keep us in your prayers. And everyone’s comments on the devotional were so good today. I especially liked yours, Tina. Hugs to all. ❤️

  3. Dorothy says:

    “Love one another through humble service—to the end.” WOW!!! Seana “nailed it” right there. That short but concise sentence. BUT GOD, BUT JESUS!!!! “Humble service” for me that’s hard at times.
    Lord, help me to be humble and remain humble in all that I do. Allow me to show the type of grace and love Jesus showed. Remind me I don’t need to be “on top” to have the “good life,” all I need is You, Your Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen and amen.
    Be blessed and love those who are hard to love sisters.

  4. Rachel Lawson says:

    I’ve never seen that Eugene Peterson quote but I love it!

  5. JanB says:

    When I read about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, I think about him touching His creation! I think about the disciples having God, incarnate, touch their flesh and serve their needs – physical and spiritual.

    As he removes the physical ‘filth’ from their feet, He is about to become the offered sacrifice to remove the spiritual ‘filth’ of their sin.

    The phrase “the ground is level at the foot of the cross” is absolutely true. We are all (believers and unbelievers) sinners in need of the saving blood of Jesus. As we continue to read God’s word and strive to know Him more fully, may we regard each other, more and more, as fellow pilgrims in this world. May we be drawn to help one another as there is need.

    I am praying for each of you in your need at this time. God bless you.

  6. Penny Malley says:

    Amen ❤️

  7. Victoria E says:

    Wow Tina what an amazing story. Thank you for sharing. Yesterday I read in the Bible in one year app stories of how suffering transformed people to be better and I had to wonder if the same could be said of me?? In some ways yes, but in other ways the wounds of past hurts make my heart feel at times like a feral cat, untrusting and ready to lash out at the slightest trigger. I’m not sure this is even related but I feel challenged to continue trusting God with those parts of my heart and serving others out of the abundant grace He has shown me. Thank you Arina, Searching, and everyone else who prayed for me, again like a switch I felt the peace of God activate in me sometime last evening. Thank you for your prayers. Lana Boone thank you for your insight ! And KarenS praying for your family in this difficult time.

  8. Rachel says:

    KELLY (NEO) a few of us performed that song at our Pinning Ceremony for nursing school. Love it so much!

    I was once put in the position as a nurse to “wash the feet” of one who had hurt me deeply. And she was put in the position of being forced to receive my care. It was one of the most difficult, humbling and beautiful experiences of my life. Jesus met me in that moment and enabled me to do what I would NEVER have chosen to do on my own. God used that act of obedience to bring such freedom from the hurt and bitterness I had carried.

    GRAMSIESUE – praying today for your husband’s surgery KAREN – being a caregiver is such hard work. Praying for grace for you today. LEXI – OUCH! I know that hurts so much! Praying for swift healing!

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