Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

Seeing Things Differently Now

As I sat with 8-10 other folk that Good Friday afternoon, I wondered again how this whole thing came about. I was doing something that I had never done before even though the example of Jesus was clear enough in the Bible. Like many others, I believed this action of Jesus was "appropriate" in the circumstances (I'm sure He must have appreciated my approval!). But that was then; this was now.

The girl who held the basin and the towel knelt before an elderly man and with due propriety began to wash his feet. No words were spoken. A gentle hush had settled upon the small group. No one wanted to risk breaking the fragile but very powerful  moment.

The girl moved to the next person without a word. This "servant girl" would shortly kneel before me and wash my feet. We were all very aware of our "naked feet". It was the strangest feeling - a gathering sanctioned by the church and attended by people with bare feet.

Then the servant girl knelt before the lady next to me. I became aware that Joan was crying as her feet were gently washed. How did we come to be there for this most moving gathering? How did I, as the Pastor, come to the point of agreeing with the request of this young lass that we make available to any members of our congregation the opportunity  to share in this experience?

But the question that most occupied my heart was this, "Lord, what do you want me to learn from this experience?" Now she was kneeling in front of me. I was aware that some of the folk who were present on this Easter Friday had come because they trusted my judgment. They were watching to see my reaction. The question persisted, "Lord, what do you want me to learn from this experience?" The, as our servant girl prepared to wash my feet the answer came. The words formed in my mind but they were not my words. "Mike, let me serve you".

She reached out her hands and washed my feet. But she was only partially the focus of my attention. I was centred on the Lord's words. O yes, I knew who spoke to me that afternoon and I was somewhat stunned by what He said, "Mike, let me serve you". In that moment I think I caught a glimpse of Peter's reaction when Jesus took the basin and the towel and attempted to wash his feet.

You see, for me, the theology was all wrong. I had been taught from the very earliest days of my Christian journey that we are here on this earth to serve the Lord. So Jesus is the Lord and He gives directions and we are the faithful servants who jump to do His will. That's true, isn't it? I suspect that's exactly what Peter believed so that, when Jesus came to wash his feet.  Peter's theology goes something like this; "There's something wrong here, Lord. You're supposed to be reclined here where I am and I'm supposed to be kneeling where you are.  I can't let you take the place of a servant. That's my role. No, I can't let you serve me. If anyone is going to do any foot-washing here tonight, it will be me".

"Mike, let me serve you" Nothing has changed over the 2,000+ years between then and now. Still the Master comes and seeks to serve us every day in so many ways. We are willing to serve Him but we have trouble receiving His ministry to us  - or the ministry of others, for that matter.

My prayer for us this Easter is that we gladly yield to Jesus' desire to serve us. When Peter grasped what Jesus was offering, he virtually went to the other extreme; "Then wash my hands and head as well as my feet"!!  Only as we allow Jesus to serve us can we then begin to serve Him and others. If we are not receiving from Him, then we have nothing to give to others.

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