Thursday, March 20, 2008

Confessions: Humility and Service

13:1 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
13:2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper
13:3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God,
13:4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.
13:5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
13:6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
13:7 Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
13:8 Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me."
13:9 Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!"
13:10 Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you."
13:11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."
13:12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
13:13 You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am.
13:14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
13:15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
13:16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.
13:17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
13:31b When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.
13:32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.
13:33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.'
13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Through this passage of scripture, seen through a Christian Humanist lens, run the themes of humility and service. Both of these ideas run counter to what is popularly perceived in our society as being desirable characteristics.

We're not supposed to be humble, for that would be humiliating! We're not supposed to serve; others are here to serve us. To be proud and well-served, that's the way of life we aspire to, many of us.

Our magazines and newspapers are full of commercial ads telling us how to raise our self-esteem and the many ways we can pay people to serve us, as though these two comprise surefire ways to find happiness.

Jesus has humbled himself by washing his disciples' feet, by serving them. And these acts of service to his friends are by way of underscoring his message of love: Love. One. Another. As I have loved you.

And that is happiness.

1 comment:

Christina Martin said...

Beautifully said.