Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

02 April 2009

Truly Remarkable

How would you spend this evening if you knew it was going to be your last?

Yesterday I had the privilege of teaching 60 children in my scripture classes about the beautiful episode of Jesus washing his disciples' feet on the Thursday night before the events of the Easter weekend started to unfold. To commence the lesson I asked the children this very question of how they would spend the evening if they knew it was their last. Some of the responses included

* Order pizza and play Nintendo DS all night.
* Jump off my roof and see if I actually can fly after all
* Go to McDonalds for one last happy meal
* Finish my homework (oh yeah!!) and spend time with my family
* Get all my friends over for a party

On Jesus' last night before he faced crucifixion he had dinner with his twelve best friends but he didn't spend the evening pleasing himself, seeking out love and comfort or doing that last crazy thing.

Jesus did something remarkable. He washed their feet. This was an enormous gift of love and sacrifice.
Why remarkable?
Because the feet of the disciples would not have looked nice and clean like the ones in this photo. The 24 feet in question would have sweated through the heat of the day, walked along the dusty roads and would not have been "refreshed" before coming to dinner. (It was quite good fun to go into a bit of detail at this point!!!)

Because in those days the task of foot washing would have been relegated to the lowest slave of the household and so for Jesus, their Lord and Teacher, to do this would have been culturally surprising to say the least.

Because this was his last night before he faced crucifixion and instead of focussing on what he was about to face, he looked outward and gave his friends a simple but powerful act of love in the gift of cleansing of their feet. (Now there is more going on here than simple foot washing – but the children are young and I only had 25 minutes!)

Because he then used it, selflessly, to teach his friends one final lesson while they were together.

"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."John 13:14,15

He was not suggesting that they literally wash every foot with which they came into contact there after. He was suggesting that they love one another sacrificially, selflessly, taking on acts of service that lack glamour but demonstrate extravagant love - that they show love in a remarkable way.

Maybe remarkable is not the best word to describe what Jesus did because it is entirely in character that Jesus – who came not to be served but to serve – spent his last night with his friends in this way.

But it does paint a remarkable example to us to love one another abundantly, quietly, humbly, sacrificially, selflessly, beautifully.

And the best bit for me yesterday? I think all 60 kids got it. Not necessarily that they need to love one another sacrificially - wouldn't that be nice?? But they did get that Jesus did something truly remarkable the night before He died on the cross. And I praise God for that.

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