“Have Love for One Another”
Maundy Thursday – April 18, 2019
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor
West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist Churches
John 13:1-17, 31b-35 (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=422413459)
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. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.
And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 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. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 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.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
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? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 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.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The ongoing daily dialogue we have with the scriptures tells us that
the choices we make in our lives do make a difference in the eye of God.
A person’s actions,
both publicly and privately,
serve as a window to the soul.
A disciplined, mature spiritual life
could be defined as when a person’s actions
are consistent with the faith they proclaim.
This recognizes and eliminates personal hypocrisy.
This defines authenticity.
This is euphemistically referred to as
“Talking the talk and walking the walk.”
I think of it as living in harmonic rhythm with Christ.
This is my goal as his disciple:
to make what I say and what I do
become not only a harmonic rhythm with each other,
but also, a harmonic rhythm with what Jesus said and what Jesus did.
“Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another,”
Jesus instructs his disciples.
Jesus talked the talk and walked the walk.
Jesus is authentic as they come.
Our Last Supper setting for this evening begins with His action:
Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
He pours water over their feet, washes, and towel dries.
His actions were startling to his beloved disciples,
perhaps just as startling as they are to us today.
In my opinion, feet are dirty and smelly and rather ugly.
Yet, Jesus washes 12 pairs of feet this evening.
His actions are incredibly humbling.
The teacher is usually the one held in higher esteem than the student.
Yet, Jesus demonstrates that humility is more important than any lesson plan.
His actions are incredibly courageous.
He knows that his betrayer is in line to have his feet washed.
Jesus washes the feet of Judas anyways.
The one who is giving Jesus up to the authorities to be killed
is one of those whose feet Jesus washed.
His actions were one of service.
He rolled up his sleeves
and went about the work of cleaning another’s dirty, filthy feet.
His actions are incredibly loving.
It is hard to get more intimate than washing someone else’s feet.
His touch demonstrates how much he loved his closest friends.
Jesus teaches, “you also ought to wash one another’s feet… you are blessed if you do them.”
When it comes to hypocrisy,
none can be found in Jesus.
Jesus is saying, “Just as I have done, so are you to do to other disciples.”
Treat other followers of Christ with humility,
not according to power or authority,
but as equals,
even if it takes making ourselves less than equals.
Be courageous in service;
extend mission and ministry
to those who are known to have hurt or betrayed us.
Be lavish in our service,
willing to go beyond what the world might expect.
Serve because we love, and
Without any expectation of reciprocity.
Love enemies, just as we are to love ourselves,
… just as we are to love our God.
Because Jesus washed the feet of his disciples,
it requires that we pay especially close attention to what he has to say.
He gives a new commandment:
“Love one another.
Just as I have loved you,
you also should love one another.”
Shouldn’t this be the character that identifies us as followers of Jesus?
Love should define who we are and whose we are.
Often today, we lose sight of this simple, humbling fact.
It is far easier to apply the cultural
ethics and morality of the world upon our church,
than it is to apply this command of Jesus to our lifestyle and decisions.
The church becomes secularized when we import
democracy, authority, and power.
The body is whitewashed by
power hungry executives,
and ladder climbing laity.
The ecclesia becomes just another system of righteous service
when we apply Robert’s Rules of Order.
But Jesus calls us to another standard.
The identity of His Body is to be grounded and identified by love.
Show me a community organization that requires everybody to love!
Show me a judicial expectation to love!
Show me a politician who runs on a platform of love.
Show me incorporation papers or by-laws of any business that demands love define its purpose, culture, or values!
Jesus calls his church, his followers, his disciples to love
– to love one another,
to love our enemies,
to love those who persecute us,
to love those who are un-lovely,
to love the least fortunate,
to love the outcast, the poor, the widow, the orphaned, the diseased, and the imprisoned.
Jesus calls us to love the Lord our God,
with our entire mind,
with all our soul,
with all our strength, and
with all our heart.
That love began with a pitcher of water, a basin, and a towel.
This is his reason:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
In this age of evangelical fervor,
isn’t this the greatest evangelism tool ever conceived and enacted by Jesus? When others see the love that we share, won’t they want to share it, too?
You won’t find love in your company’s ethic.
You won’t find love standing before a judge.
You won’t even find love in a therapist’s chair.
Love won’t be found in a course outline or a state curriculum.
You may be searching for love in a failing marriage or broken relationship.
You may even be searching for love from a bottle, from a pill, or in a high.
Love won’t be found there.
By the grace of God, let others find the love of God here with us!
Let us open the shades,
that all might look in and see the love that is proclaimed by our congregation,
with integrity and authenticity,
both in our words and in our deeds.
Let us act with humility, with courage, with service, and with love,
just as Jesus did,
washing his disciples’ feet.
Let all the world see and experience God’s love,
as it is meant to be seen and experienced.
There is no greater love than the love Jesus has for you.
We are his disciples, his children, his followers.
It was for our sake that Jesus suffered and died on the cross
– to wash us clean of our sins
– to reconcile us with each other and with our God.
It was for our sake that Jesus rose from the dead
– to give us the gift of eternal life.
It was for our sake that Jesus broke bread and shared the cup
– to give us the sweet anticipation of his return and
the love in which we are enveloped.
That same bread and cup are shared here this evening.
Tomorrow, his passion will be spoken.
And Sunday, His resurrection will be proclaimed.
Actions do speak louder than words.
Have love for one another, my beloved, just as Jesus loves you.
And by your love, you will be known.