Sometimes I cannot get something out of my head. As I read the Gospel account of the Passover preparations, this thing stays with me.
Jesus sent Peter and John to look for a man carrying a water jar. He told them to ask him about the guest room and to follow him and make preparations for their Passover celebration.
There’s a lot going on here that would seem to be women’s work in first century Judea. Carrying water. Making a room ready. Preparing a Passover meal.
It was no small task to clean and cook. There were details the Jewish people knew from Scripture that needed to be exacting. There were traditions they had gathered around tables for hundreds of years, foods and added activities that helped the people to remember and provided a means to teach their children.
I wonder, did Peter and John have any help? Did they feel this was demeaning, this task of preparing a meal? Or did they feel special, being appointed for this assignment, because, well, they were the “important disciples?” I don’t know, but I’ve been considering these questions.
When I’m required to do lowly work, what are my first thoughts and attitude? If I’m asked to do something that will bring me public acclaim or at least a pat on the back, how do I respond, knowing it will surely be noticed? When the job is unseen, maybe even unappreciated, are my thoughts pure or disgruntled? Am I simply glad to serve or am I annoyed that I have to?
I don’t need to tell you the answer. My pride may be showing up more than what humility I think I possess. I’ve been faced with both kinds of responsibilities this week, and there’s been some heart examination going on.
In the upper room, with all preparations completed, dinner table discussion ensued among the twelve about who was the greatest. It was not their first time on this topic. And it was not the first time Jesus tried to explain and show them that the least in the kingdom will be the greatest. A little child is of utmost importance to Him, He told them, and should be to those who want to be a disciple. They were dull of hearing. Sometimes I am too.
Jesus took a towel and a basin, knelt before one man, removed a shoe and began to wash one dirty foot at a time, all the way around the table. They were shocked, dismayed. Peter protested. What kind of common posture was their Lord and Master taking, Him on the floor before the likes of them?
“Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your 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. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” –John 13:12-17 NLT
I wonder how often those men talked of that night and remembered the time their Savior washed their feet? I believe the message finally got through to them: after they saw their risen Lord, after they were filled with the Holy Spirit, after their eyes were opened to the plan God had been working out all along.
The disciples and those under their teaching would write of servanthood, of doing as Christ had done.
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” –1 Peter 4:10 NLT
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” — 1 John 3:18 NLT
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” –Romans 12:10 NLT
The early church’s lesson is my lesson to learn. To serve in love. To serve without complaining. To serve when no one is watching. To serve with a heart of joy. Because in serving I reflect the heart of Christ. He made the role of Servant a high calling.
Beth Moore says, “. . . we may have no idea as to the significance of the work God has called us to do.”
The work He calls us to do might be to speak before thousands. It could be to nurture a child’s heart. It could be in the public eye where many will notice. Or it might be an obscure room where we kneel down and wash another’s feet.
The work of Christ is worthy, no matter what He calls me to do. There is a blessing in store when I do whatever He asks. And so I pray:
Search me, O God my Savior, and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious and self-centered thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You. Lead me in the path You took, the path of righteousness, the path of servanthood. I want to follow You by serving others.