Kay and I attended Highland Baptist Church with Jonathan and Meredith yesterday. Their Sunday School class is studying the gospel of John. Yesterday, the focus was John 13 where Jesus washes the disciples’ feet.
The focus of the discussion was how Jesus’ stepped down to serve the disciples. The Philippians 2 kind of stepping down, out of eternity, not clinging to his divine nature. Here’s the trusted rabbi, the great teacher, the Lord washing their feet. Peter verbalized everyone’s feelings with “Lord, you are not going to wash my feet!” That’s how I’ve taught this passage before also.
But yesterday, I had another thought.
John 13:1 sets up an important background thought: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”
Here is the thought I was captivated with. What if Jesus did not step down, but rather stepped up to serving the disciples? What if serving in a lowly way as an expression of “the full extent of his love” is actually up?
God has this amazing way of turning down into up. Of turning harm into good. Of turning sacrifice into blessing.
Down to up: 1 Corinthians 1:27
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
Harm into good: Genesis 50:20
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Sacrifice into blessing: Romans 12:1-2
I urge you, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. … Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
So, we can step up into a higher/deeper/broader/fuller understanding of love by stepping down to serve others.
Amazing, isn’t it?