“I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” John 13:15 (NLT)
“I’m going to die.”
I heard those words from my first husband and two of my best friends. They didn’t use those words. They told me what the doctor told them. Can I say ignorance truly is bliss? I immediately knew the future of the ones I loved—even while they were waiting for the next appointment and the doctor’s plan for their treatment. The hollowness of their revelation filled my heart.
The doctor didn’t use the words, “you’re going to die.” Most doctors don’t. Although each of my loved ones had a different disease, the diagnosis the doctor offered them meant one thing—each was terminally ill.
Although every one of us can honestly say, “I’m going to die,” once the doctor gives you a diagnosis it changes the tone. If you’ve heard those words, you know the feeling of hopelessness they invoke.
Jesus was about to tell His disciples He was going to die. Jesus had mentioned it prior to this scene but something about this time was different.
Imagine the pit forming in the stomach of each disciple. What did Jesus mean He was going to die?! These men had left their businesses, families—their entire lives had changed so they could follow this guy around the country side. Now He’s leaving?! He’s going to die! What about this Kingdom He talked about?! Who’s going to be in charge?
In the bewilderment of that moment, Jesus gives them one last lesson. Jesus talked about the last being first, give and it will be given to you, blessed are the meek; now He was going to show His disciples.
The apostles John and Luke had two perspectives of the events that evening.
John recorded that Jesus got up from the table and began to wash the feet of His disciples. In the U.S. when a visitor arrives, the host welcomes the visitor in, tosses the coat on the bed, and the festivities begin. In Jesus’ culture, the lowest ranking servant in the home washes the feet of the guests. Certainly, it’s not the host that washes the feet of the guests.
Jesus assumes the role of a servant. While His disciples are still trying to figure out their pecking order, Jesus, moved by love, serves his friends.
The Power of Prayer
Luke shares an interaction between Peter and Jesus. Peter makes the brash statement, out of ignorance, that he will follow Jesus anywhere. Peter had no idea the events that were about to unfold. Jesus’ response to Peter is another example of Christ’s love. Jesus tells Peter He has prayed for him. Jesus pleads for Peter’s victory over the temptation about to present itself to His outspoken friend.
Jesus prayed for His disciples. Have you considered that Jesus prays for you?
Later, John will write: “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.” 1 John 2:1 (NLT)
Have you ever felt that your act of kindness is meaningless? Have you ever said, “I’ll pray for you,” in some hopeless situation and felt bad that the only thing you could do was pray?
It’s no mistake that Jesus left the disciples with these two examples and told them, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” Jesus didn’t perform a supernatural act and tell them to reproduce it.
Jesus took the role of a servant; He acted in love and He prayed.
Father, teach me to be a servant. Teach me the power of prayer. Let my first reaction to a situation be prayer. Help me to look for opportunities to be a servant, to pray. Give me Your love for others.