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. Jordan Yeager says:

    Wow reading that was just amazing!

  2. Malisa Cruz says:

    I am so amazed my our God, no one is like him! “Heavenly-minded”

  3. Debbie Dodge says:

    Praying for Steve

  4. Claire B says:

    Karen S, I have walked those shoes. My mother prayed daily that the Lord would bring her home. He answered that prayer so we did not have to deal with memory car facility. I cannot imagine the pain this puts your father and your family in. We had to do this with my MIL For health reasons. It is all a lot to bear.

  5. Alayna P. says:

    Thinking about what Amanda said in the podcast: “God of the universe in human form washing feet” while reading today and I started crying. He even washed Judas’ feet knowing what Judas was going to do. The humbleness and the humility in this act. And in the first verse “he loved them to the end”. I felt John’s love for Jesus in those words as much as Jesus’ love for His disciples.

  6. Colleen Politanski says:

    Love this reading today

  7. Traci Gendron says:

    This is an area that I struggle with. Why is it so hard for me to serve those that have hurt me? I struggled with my step daughter for years. She was horribly mean and yet I was supposed to be mature, right? Well, I wasn’t. I was kind to her, but in my mind I was not having good thoughts about this girl. Time has gone on and I had the opportunity to tell her how I felt. We are now good, but every once in awhile I get those nasty thoughts about her. I really need to pray on this. It is not my strongest area to say the least.

    RACHEL – that is a very humbling story. I need to remember that.
    GRAMMIESUE – prayers for you and your husband

  8. Rhonda J. says:

    Great reading and study today, along with insightful comments. Oh how I love John and his heart for Jesus! I also listened to the SRT podcast today for the week which I highly recommend!
    Prayers please for my husband that flys north tomorrow to be with family going through a challenging time. It involves our grandson Brayden that I have also ask for prayer for. Thank you fellow SHE”S. Praying for your requests as well.

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