Thursday, April 01, 2010

Knowing VS Doing

I love the scripture where Jesus washes his disciples feet. It says in John 13 that he wanted to "show them the fullness of his love", and so he put on the clothes of a slave. That is what Jesus is doing when it says that he took off his outer garment and wrapped a towel around his waste. Jesus was wearing the clothing of a slave, and he was also on his knees performing the work of a slave.

This work of washing someone's feet was a dirty job. At this time in history, if you were a Jew and you had a Jewish servant and a Gentile servant, you would never ask your Jewish slave to wash feet. If you did, that slave would know that he was being punished. It was the lowest of the lows to wash feet.

This is why Peter protests. He is shocked and flabbergasted that Jesus is playing the role of a slave. He tries to dissuade Jesus from going through with this audacious act of service. Yet, Jesus needs to show his disciples "the fullness of his love" and up to this point, his greatest act of love for them is to humble himself to the very lowest place among them and to serve them in this way.

Afterwards, Jesus puts his regular clothes back on and sits down. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asks. “Now that I have washed your feet, you also should was one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” He ends by saying, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

This statement is most revealing. Jesus wants his disciples to not only understand what He has done for them, and not only to experience the fullness of his love individually. He also wants them to realize that their blessing will come when they put his words into practice.

Jesus wants us to understand that we are not blessed because we know something. We are only blessed when we do the things we know.

We cannot know that God has commanded us to have an open-hand to the poor and then expect that we will be blessed or that we will grow in Christ because we have the understanding. We have to put the words of Jesus into action if we hope to reap the benefits.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6)

1 comment:

Marc said...

I guess the issue with conservative Christianity is their unstated belief that active obedience is worse than passive disobedience or that the latter is excusable. Thus adultery is out but ignoring the poor is in.