4th Week of Easter, Thursday, April 29
Acts 13:13-25 / John 13:16-20
Jesus teaches about service; "No slave is greater than his master."
Eastern Mennonite College ran an unusual ad in Campus Life magazine. After describing how everyone today is striving to be "on top," the ad noted that it wasn't much different in Jesus' day. Even Jesus' closest disciples wanted to be "on top." Jesus made a dramatic statement about this attitude.He simply tied a towel around his waist and washed their feet. In other words, he dramatized in action what he had taught in words: The one who wishes to be "on top" must serve. The ad concluded, "And so if you want to be the greatest, come and learn with us." Jesus would have liked that ad.
What kind of sense of service do we have? "We will crawl under your car oftener and get ourselves dirtier than any of our competitors." Service station sign
The opening "Paul and his friends" accepted are significant. Paul has taken on the leadership. Barnabas accepted it without demur. The territory they were going to was the wildest and most dangerous ravines, mountains and dangerous bands of robbers. Mark left them and went home. A missionary life is not for everyone. Providence had different plans for him. His mother Mary, a widow, was a well-to-do disciple of Jesus: she had a big house in Jerusalem. It was an interesting place. The apostles and all the great men of the church visited here. The hall on the first floor was one of the earliest Christian churches (Acts 12.12). Paul did not like Mark going home. When Barnabas wanted to take Mark along on the next journey, Paul refused. The friendship with Barnabas broke up (15.38). Paul was sick. In spite of this, he went (Galatians 4.13). That is the life of a missionary. Paul may have picked up malaria on the coast, which broke out into fever as he came into the mountains. The very first Sabbath he was in the synagogue and spoke.
In his preaching, Paul presents Christ as the one who is coming which the whole Old Testament was leading to, and John the Baptist as the immediate announcer of Jesus’ appearance of that fulfillment. Jesus had told his disciples quite insistently and emphatically that neither power nor rank was to be the mark of the disciple but service: serving love. Now at the Last Supper, he showed this by his own example when he, the Lord and Master, washed the feet of his apostles. They, the servants, are no greater than their master. And his messengers are no greater than Jesus who sends them.
At the washing of the feet, Jesus gave us two lessons: That the disciple has to accept such service, however embarrassed he may feel, as Peter did. The disciple on his part must render this service to his fellow men. The lesson is that of humility. Humility is truthfulness. Towards our neighbours, we have to take our true position. We are not their lord and not their teacher. The washing of the feet was only a symbolic act, showing loving service. Only the man who has been loved, can love. The love of God for us, is the pattern of our love for our fellow men. Jesus does not want that in return do something for him, but for our fellow human beings. Please note: This is a beatitude (verse 17). He later adds: This service rendered is a service done to Jesus, and through him to God. This service he rendered was also done to Judas, his betrayer. He foretells the betrayal so that the faith of the apostles may not be shaken when it happens.
Prayer: All-powerful God, your Son Jesus, reminds us today that we are no greater than your and our servant, Jesus, our Lord and Master. Give us the love and endurance to serve you and people without waiting for awards or gratitude and to accept the difficulties and contradictions, which are part of the Christian life and which are normal for followers of him who bore the cross for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen