Love to the Fullest Extent

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.  – John 13:1 (NIV)

…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:4-5 (NIV)

It was Thursday evening.  Jesus knew what none of the others gathered in the room knew, but He was about to tell them.  He was about to die.  This was the eve of His crucifixion.  He was less than twelve hours away from the Cross.  An innocent, sinless man, about to be betrayed and suffer the most humiliating and excruciatingly horrible execution imaginable, to pay the debt of the guilty and the sinful.

Imagine yourself in Jesus’ place during these moments.  Close your eyes and think about knowing what He knew, and with your own manner of thinking, with your own way of facing adversity and perhaps even fear, with your own typical reaction to betrayal and disappointment, ask yourself, “What would I do?  How would I act?  What would I say?  What would I feel?”  Now, imagine that when you next open your eyes, you are looking through the eyes of Jesus across the room at the faces of your poor clueless followers. 

There’s Peter, who you know will deny even knowing you three times before morning.  There’s Thomas who will doubt the power of God to bring you out the tomb alive.  And there, trying desperately to hide his shame is Judas, the one who would sell you out with a kiss for a pouch full of coins.  What is your next act…your next words….your next emotion.

John tells us how Jesus reacted.  He loved them so much that He wanted to show them…to illustrate…to demonstrate “the full extent of His love.”  I wonder if we in that moment would have had even a passing thought about love? 

His next act was even more astounding.  He stripped down to the typical attire of a household slave, fetched a towel and a basin of water and began, one by one to wash the feet of His disciples.  Jesus, the Messiah…the Son of God…the Christ…King of Kings and Lord of Lords…God in flesh, like a lowly slave washing the dirt and the smell and even the dung of the road off the feet of weak, sinful, ordinary, humans.  And unless, we miss this….He washed the feet of Judas along with the restWHY?  From His own mouth, Jesus would tell the disciples why:

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

Thursday.  The day before “Good Friday.”  The night before He died to pay the penalty for the sins of those who would believe in Him, Jesus set the example for us all, by showing the path of a sacrificial, humble, graceful, willing, servant.  He set the example for His true followers, by showing “the full extent of His love.”  “Now,” He tells us, “that [we] know these things [we] will be blessed if [we] do them.”

Dare we love to that extent?


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