The older I get, the more I think about my own legacy.
- How will I be remembered?
- What do I want my children to know and recollect about me?
- What life lesson is most important for me to teach them and for them to learn?
- Maybe most importantly, if I knew I would die tomorrow, what would I say to them today?
Those thoughts swirled through my mind today as a result of our devotional time here at Ambassador. We read the account of the last supper story as captured in John 13.
It’s the final night before Jesus is crucified. A Passover meal is scheduled for the “upper room” for the men who were following Christ. Most certainly there was tension in the air as hostility toward Jesus was rampant in Jerusalem. Some must have wondered why the Lord would lead them to this city, the hotbed of religious animosity. Perhaps they could hear echoes of angry voices marching through the streets on the lookout for Jesus and his men. We know Pharisees and Sadducees were lurking in the wings, determined to stop the Lord at all costs, including 30 pieces of silver.
Even still, there’s a brief pause, like the eye of a furious hurricane, which gave them a few quiet moments removed from the gathering throng. It was just long enough to enjoy a reclined Passover meal. Maybe there was even some laughter or singing of holiday songs.
But then, when the meal was done, God’s divine agenda began in motion. It was a pivotal moment which signaled the beginning of the end. At least for His earthly work.
Jesus knew that of course. Even so, when food service was done, Jesus quietly got up to “gird himself with a towel,” preparing to wash His disciples’ feet.
What they thought was an appalling act of a master teacher (which should have been performed by the lowliest servant), was a godly symbol intended to leave an indelible mark on his followers.
Even though His disciples are clueless, Jesus “humbles himself before the mighty hand of God” through this exemplary act of service. Even while washing their feet, the Lord points out, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.”
As I read the passage, I thought, “Really? This is what You choose, Jesus, to drive home the lesson of a lifetime? Your hours are numbered, and this is what You want Your men to remember? Something which will remain with them for the rest of their lives? The minutes are ticking off and You’re trying to drive home an important message through foot washing? This is the most important lesson?”
- Putting aside that the Creator of the universe girds himself with a towel and washes the filthy feet of the very men who he created.
- Putting aside that the master took on the task given to the lowliest servant.
- Putting aside that Jesus could have given them the oration of the millennium, He chose to perform this simple act of servanthood.
This is the lesson he chooses to deliver.
Why would Jesus do that? The answer is in the rest of John chapter 13:
For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (John 13:15-20)
That’s it! Jesus intended this final-hour act as an example. We’re to serve one another. The world will take up notice by the love we express. After all, if we’re humble enough to serve others, we’re “receiving Him who sent Me.”
This puts my legacy thinking in a whole new light. I suspect the best message to leave my children will more of an example of humility and service than a moving oratory.
John 13 is a great illustration for us today! And that’s why on Haven Today, it’s “All about Jesus.” The author and finisher, and may I say “illustrator” of our faith!