Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Proper Use of Authority

“…Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from Supper.  He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.  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.”

(John 13:3-5 ESV)

            As I read them, I find these verses to be mind-boggling.  They don’t seem to fit our typical way of thinking.  In fact, they’re the complete opposite of the way we tend to both think and behave.

            We see that Jesus knew who he was.  He knew that he’d come from God and that he was returning to God.  He also knew his authority, that all things had been given into his hands.   Yet, even with this knowledge, he engaged in one of the lowliest acts of service.  He knelt down and washed the feet of his disciples.

            In our human way of thinking, possessing great authority means being served.  It means that menial activities are now beneath us.  It means enjoying, and even demanding, the respect and honor of others.

            We don’t expect that the president of the United States will do the dishes.  We don’t expect that the Queen of the United Kingdom will clean the bathroom.  We don’t expect those who run large corporations, like Bill Gates, to do the laundry.  Because of their position, they have servants who do these things for them.

            This is especially true when we think of the person of Jesus.  After all, he’s God.  He’s the maker of all things.  He’s the giver of life.  He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords.  And for this reason, he certainly deserves to be served.    He deserves the honor of man.

            This is one reason why many of us crave power and wealth.  We know that, with this status, comes luxury.  We know that, with this status, comes the service of others.

            But Jesus turns this thought process on its head.  And he does so not only with his teaching.  He does so by his example.

            And his service goes way beyond the washing of his disciples’ feet.  He gave his very life for us.  He died on the cross that we might receive what we do not deserve, the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.

            He then calls on us to love as he’s loved.  He calls on us to serve as he’s served.  He calls on us to humble ourselves and give ourselves for others as he’s given himself for us.

            The question for us, then, is if we’ll do this.  Having received his service, will we follow the example of our Lord and Master?  Will we act not only in our own interests, but in those of others?

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