A Servant’s Heart

John 13:12-14 WEB

So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? [13] You call me, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You say so correctly, for so I am. [14] If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.


Washing feet was a servant’s task. Religious and civic leaders did not wash their own feet. A servant washed their feet when they gathered. So, it was almost an offense to the 12 for Jesus to wash their feet. When he is done washing their feet, he puts his outer wrap back on and tells them to go and do likewise. This was probably an offense as well. The 12 thought they were going to rule the 12 tribes of Israel in eternity (Mt 19:28). It would not have been natural for them to take up feet washing. But that is what Jesus asked them to do. During Jesus’ ministry, he showed the example of servanthood. He was on a mission for His Father, and it required humility and service. Jesus did not mind.

Jesus wants us, his disciples, to feel the same way. We are to be mission-minded as we become servants to one another. Things are not so different today. When people imagine themselves having a large ministry, it is not natural to think about feet washing. But that is what Christians are called to do. We must bow our hearts before the Father in humility and willingness to serve as He served. That may mean washing feet, or it may mean taking that poor family to the food bank. There are many ways to serve.

Jesus served. He was the disciples’ Lord and Teacher. He is also our Lord and Teacher. We must not look at Jesus and say, “He was God, of course he could.” We must not use his Godhood as an excuse not to imitate Him. Rather we must say to ourselves, “the Lord and Teacher served both the lost and the saved. I must also serve.” When we serve, we are opening avenues to plead with others to be reconciled to God through Jesus. To the lost, that is salvation from eternity without God. To believers, it is encouragement in the Lord as we refresh one another.


Lord, please give me a heart for service. Help me recognize opportunities throughout my day to serve. Help me lay down my own interests and care for another’s interests. Help me trust you with myself and with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Humility Amid Greatness

John 13:1,3-5 WEB

Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his time had come that he would depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. [3] Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came from God, and was going to God, [4] arose from supper, and laid aside his outer garments. He took a towel, and wrapped a towel around his waist. [5] Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.


Jesus knew he was going to die. The Father had come to him with Moses and Elijah and encouraged him regarding the upcoming events (Mt 17:1-9). So, Jesus knew. Yet, despite the personal trial he was experiencing, he did not stop and start focusing on himself. He did not seek pity or attention. Nor did he seek praise for his willingness and surrender. Instead, Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).

During Jesus’ time on earth, feet washing was a courtesy. It was bestowed upon guests when they went into another’s home (Luke 7:37-38). Thus, the Lord was treating the disciples like his own guests. It was Jesus’ final Passover and he spent the time ministering to his disciples. At the same time, Jesus’ need was great. Only a short time later do we find him praying for deliverance from the upcoming events (Mt 26:39). Yet in all these things Jesus humbled himself in the sight of the Father.

If anyone has ever had bragging rights it was Jesus. He was the only begotten son of God (John 3:16). He was also a miracle worker (Mt 8:23-27). He could feed thousands with mere scraps (John 6:1-15) and his following was growing. He had something to boast about. Yet he didn’t. He never felt entitled. Rather he humbled himself in the sight of God and the disciples. He showed us how to act amid greatness.


Lord, please help me grow in humility. Take boasting out of my mouth and help me become a servant to others. Thank you for interceding on my behalf, Lord. Help me behave more like You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Metaphor?

John 11:11-15 WEB

He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” [12] The disciples therefore said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” [13] Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. [14] So Jesus said to them plainly then, “Lazarus is dead. [15] I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let’s go to him.”


Some Christians believe the Word of God is black and white with rigid borders and boundaries. Other Christians turn everything into a metaphor with a plethora of meanings. So, which is it? Is the Bible to be obeyed to the letter? Or, should the Bible be analyzed as a metaphor so that people can take a range of meanings from the Word? In the above passage, Jesus mixes metaphor with concrete action.

Jesus tells the disciples Lazarus has fallen asleep. Actually, Lazarus is not sleeping, he is dead. What do we do with a passage like this? Do we call Jesus a fool or a liar? No, of course not. Jesus is hinting at the coming resurrection. When he says “Lazarus, has fallen asleep,” it is a metaphor that expands the meaning to something greater than the words therein. Lazarus had died but was going to awake from death.

But the metaphor is only part of the passage. There is also a concrete, black and white, command. Jesus tells the disciples, “Neveretheless, let’s go to him.” It was time for Jesus’ entourage to make their way to Bethany. They were in danger of being arrested and killed. So, it was not an easy command to obey. Without the hope found in the metaphor, the command seemed pointless.


Lord, help me listen to your Holy Spirit so that I can understand your Word. Fill me with obedience and understanding. Let your Word be a lamp to my feet. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Walking in the Light with Jesus

John 11:7-11,16 WEB

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.” [8] The disciples told him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” [9] Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. [10] But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn’t in him.” [11] He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” [16] Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go also, that we may die with him.”


Jesus was not afraid of dying at the hand of the Jews. He knew what the Father was going to do, so he knew where to place his feet. The Father showed Jesus that Lazarus was going to return from death and Jesus told the disciples. Jesus knew he was going to wake Lazarus from death because the Father showed him. Jesus did not fling his safety away thoughtlessly. Rather, he had confidence in God and in his purpose in God.

Jesus was walking in the light of God’s counsel. He only did what he saw and heard from the Father, so we know that the Father showed him what was about to happen. In this light, Jesus walks into danger with peace because he can see where he is going. But Jesus also reminds us the opposite is true. We can also walk in the dark.

It is amazing the disciples, who saw firsthand all the miracles, still doubted. The disciples were not convinced it was safe to go into Judea and began to murmur against the Lord. At least some of the disciples were walking in the dark. At least some of the disciples did not have enough relationship and time with the Father to know what he was doing. Therefore they walked in the dark.


Lord, help me trust the Father the way you trust the Father. Lead me into devotional practice that will reveal your plans and purposes. Enlighten my understanding and save me from trying to navigate life in the dark. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Divinely Human

John 6:66-67 WEB

At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. [67] Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You don’t also want to go away, do you?”


Jesus felt the sting of betrayal. In the above passage, you can see the undercurrent of pain in his words. I think about Jesus rebuking his mother at the wedding at Cana (John 2:4). I think about the temple when Jesus took a whip of cords and destroyed the market (John 2:14-16). I think about Jesus weeping for Lazarus (John 11:34-36). All these examples tell a story about the personality of Jesus. He was capable of exuberant emotional responses.

Jesus had several emotional responses recorded in the Bible. However, we are frequently so focused on his divinity, we bypass a human explanation for his recorded behavior. Yet, we know, Jesus suffered all things to purchase our freedom (Heb 2:17-18). If he didn’t experience the human dilemma of emotional turbulence, he did not suffer all things. Jesus was divine by nature. All he was flowed through his human experience.

It is easier to think of Jesus as so divine that his deeds are beyond human ability or responsibility. To think of the Lord as human places a burden of responsibility on us. If he was fully human as much as he is fully divine, his example is valid for me to imitate. The Bible tells us we will do greater works than Jesus (John 14:11). Our Lord was a conduit for others into the presence of the Father (John 5:19). He was holy (Rom 1:4-6).


Lord Jesus, please help me discover nuances of your personality in scripture. I want to know you. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Understanding or Trust?

John 6:64-66 WEB

But there are some of you who don’t believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who didn’t believe, and who it was who would betray him. [65] He said, “For this cause have I said to you that no one can come to me, unless it is given to him by my Father.” [66] At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.


Have you ever regretted being a Christian? Has God ever asked you to do something you did not like? There are times our flesh rebels against the work of the Spirit in our lives. Giving up our lives is hard (Luke 14:27). If it were easy, there would be much more victory in the church (Jam 4:7). If people could serve God without submitting their will to him there would be many more Christians (Rom 1:28). When we come to Christ, there are times when what he asks us offends (Phi 1:9-11).

Offense is a blight in the church (Mat 11:6). The disciples who left Jesus in the above passage became offended by something they could not understand (John 13:7). In the preceding verses, Jesus told the disciples they had to eat his flesh. I believe eating Jesus means suffering in service to him (1 Pe 4:13). However, the disciples thought he was talking about actual cannibalism (John 6:54). They could not understand so they would not trust (John 6:60).

Obedience comes from two places, understanding, and trust (Pro 3:5). When we obey God because we trust him, we are protected from offense (James 5:16). However, if we demand God explain himself, we are going to become offended (John 14:5). God is kind and explains many things through his Holy Word and his Holy Spirit (Is 41:10). However, if we demand God give us understanding we are not in trust (John 6:52). When we trust God’s motives, we no longer demand to understand (Rom 4:5).


Lord Jesus, please teach me to trust you completely. Forgive me for demanding understanding as a prerequisite to obedience. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.


#Lord #Jesus #Holy #Savior #Trust #Faith #Courage #Power #Strength #Hope

Eating Jesus

John 6:52-56 WEB

The Jews therefore contended with one another, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” [53] Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves. [54] He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. [55] For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. [56] He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him.


This is a gross passage. It is easy to empathize with the disciples’ consternation. Many of Jesus’ disciples left after he preached the above sermon (John 6:66). They didn’t know Jesus very well. They were career disciples and when things became hard, they left. Still, a few remained. There were a few disciples who knew Jesus well enough to trust him, even though they could not understand his words (John 6:67-69).

It was hard to understand (John 6:60). The Jewish people were looking for a hero to come and rescue them from Rome (Isa 9:3-5). Instead, they got Jesus. Instead of a hero, they got a baby (Luke 2:7). Instead of freedom, they got told to wait better (Luke 21:19). Instead of victory, they were told to lay down their lives (Luke 14:27). Most of the people, especially the religious leaders, could not understand.

They could not understand because they had a fixed idea about God, and Jesus was not meeting their expectations. They could not understand because they wanted their freedom from Rome without having to obey God fully. They wanted salvation without suffering. They just couldn’t understand what Jesus meant when he said to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

It’s a shame they did not realize that eating the flesh of Christ means receiving his gift of salvation. More, in this passage, it also means suffering as Christ suffered.  Likewise, drinking his blood is simply the acknowledgment of his innocence when he died. More, it means giving our lives away as Jesus gave his life away. If we are genuinely ready to suffer and die for Christ, our faith will come to perfection.


Lord Jesus, please help me care enough about other people that I will suffer to see them reconciled to God. Teach me how to live a full life and also how to give my life away. Make me holy as you are holy Jesus. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Love First

John 6:17-21 WEB

and they entered into the boat, and were going over the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. [18] The sea was tossed by a great wind blowing. [19] When therefore they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty stadia, they saw Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing near to the boat; and they were afraid. [20] But he said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” [21] They were willing therefore to receive him into the boat. Immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.


Jesus is generous-hearted giving grace to the lost and the disobedient. In our passage, the disciples are in a boat and crossing the sea instead of waiting for the Lord. Jesus went to the mountains to pray and was a long time. The disciples, tired of waiting for Jesus, headed across the sea. In their disobedience, they find themselves near destruction as the chaotic sea begins to rise and crash.

As the storm raged something unbelievable happened. The disciples saw an apparition on the water and became terrified. However, in his kindness, Jesus gave comfort to the disciples by telling them who he was. Next, he got into the boat and supernaturally took them to their destination. Jesus did not wag his finger or rebuke the disciples. Instead, he goes to the disciples, gives them comfort, joins them, and then takes them instantly to the shore.

Notice he didn’t comfort them while they toiled to the shore. Nor did he correct them and then leave them to strain against the rising sea. The disciples made some bad choices. But Jesus’ first concern is their wellbeing. In his care for the disciples, Jesus walks on the water. Jesus does the impossible to save and deliver his disciples.


Lord Jesus, thank you for the love you show me every day. Help me to trust you fully and obey your instruction. Help me live by the example you have shown and cause me to love people as you love people. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

No Fear in Love

John 6:16-18 WEB

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, [17] and they entered into the boat, and were going over the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not come to them. [18] The sea was tossed by a great wind blowing.


The disciples have been waiting for Jesus to return and it is now evening so they go to the sea. There they wait, but still, Jesus does not come. They decide to head for their home base in Capernaum and strikeout to cross the sea. On their way, a storm blows in making the sea dangerous. It’s then Jesus comes. He tells them not to be afraid and they let him on the boat.

This passage strikes me as symbolic as much as it is rational. I can imagine the evening and the dark reflecting spiritual conditions. Also, the sea always makes me think of the deep places with God. So, I look at this passage and I see symbolically that when things look dark, we must stand and wait for the Lord. Otherwise, the invitation into the deep places will not happen peacefully.

The disciples did not have peace. They made a critical error. They decided to move from the place where they were told to wait for the Lord. Perhaps there was a storm coming or perhaps they were tired of waiting. Either way, they end up where they are not supposed to be and nearly die for their disobedience.

During the storm, the disciples see Jesus walking on the water. He walks towards the boat and tells them not to be afraid. With this small comfort, the disciples let him on the boat. Even though the disciples put themselves in a dangerous position, the Lord does not abandon the disciples. He does not want them to be afraid of the storm or of him.


Lord Jesus, please help me clearly see the ways in which I am disobedient. Let me receive your gift of grace and turn from places of error. I trust you to protect me even when I make mistakes. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Gathering Scraps

John 6:10-12 WEB

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in that place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. [11] Jesus took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to those who were sitting down; likewise also of the fish as much as they desired. [12] When they were filled, he said to his disciples, “Gather up the broken pieces which are left over, that nothing be lost.”


It seems strange for Jesus to demonstrate such generosity coupled with frugality.  On one hand, he miraculously produces a feast so even the least person could eat all they wanted. On the other hand, Jesus tells them not to lose the scraps.

Jesus did not want to lose the scraps. Somehow, Jesus manages to feed the people, demonstrate God’s love to everyone, and teach the disciples an important lesson. It seems clear he does not approve of loss. Jesus does not approve of waste.

Waste is an epidemic in our modern society. We buy things and keep them until we are bored with them or until they break. Then, we throw away what we no longer care about and run out to buy more. The trash dumps around the world testify to the magnitude of waste.

Of course, garbage is not Jesus’ main concern. His main concern is people being reconciled to God the Father and coming into a saving knowledge of himself. So, when I hear Jesus talk about waste, I immediately think of people. Do we ever throw people away?

Those people in our lives that take more than they give are an opportunity. Difficult relationships are not meant to be wasted, to be thrown away. Difficult people remind me of the scraps. They are the people no one wants. Yet, the people that are leftover are the very ones I think Jesus would tell us to gather.


Lord Jesus, please teach me to be both generous and frugal. Help me Lord as I turn towards those people that are easy to ignore. Protect me from harm as I open my heart to those that are less desirable. Help me make use of every opportunity to bring healing and salvation to those you bring into my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.