The Call to Serve

Throughout Lent, I’ll be sharing weekly devotions based upon my travels to the Middle East. Today’s meditation is the fifth in the series.

“Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God. So, He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him.”

—John 13:3-5

The traditional site of the Last Supper is found on Mount Zion in the neighborhood of Jerusalem known as the City of David. In Jesus’ day, it would have been a prosperous neighborhood, home perhaps to an affluent follower of Jesus who made his residence available for the Passover celebration. As early as the year 130 CE, there was a “little church of God” in this location, most likely a house church where Christians gathered discretely in a time when they were strongly persecuted. Many churches have since stood on this spot. Two were destroyed by fire in the years 614 and again in 965. The current building was constructed by the Franciscans in 1335. The “Upper Room,” commemorated as the location of the Last Supper, is simply constructed with vaulted ceiling, Gothic arches, and white-washed-walls. It’s been sacred to Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The Tomb of David is housed in the lower level of the same building, and from 1524 to 1948 the building housed a mosque.

What Jesus chose to do as the Passover meal began was the work of the lowest status member of a household, a labor normally undertaken by a menial servant or slave. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Perhaps we can imagine him in the golden glow of oil lamps as he rolled up his sleeves, fell to his knees, and moved from one of his followers to another. He cradled their road-weary heels, poured water to wash away the grime of the day, and then gently toweled them dry. The busy chatter that precedes the Passover seder would have fallen silent, the disciples profoundly uncomfortable to have a high-status rabbi like Jesus serving them.

It was an object lesson in humility, setting the example of self-giving love and humble service. Within twenty-four hours, Jesus would set an even greater example, giving his life for the sins of the world.

How will you follow Jesus in the way of humble service?

Please pray with me . . .

Gentle and humble Lord, may love put us on our knees today. Amen.

“Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.”–Augustine

“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
―Therese of Lisieux

“I am persuaded that love and humility are the highest attainments in the school of Christ and the brightest evidences that He is indeed our Master.”–John Newton

“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do.”― Jana Stanfield

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