Devotion for 8 April 2020 - love defines us

Kia Ora and good morning Cambridge Baptist and friends.  Well done on making it nearly two weeks through the lock down – let’s hope it’s no more than another two weeks.

One of things that has been heartening to see during this lock down is great acts of love and compassion - from doctors and nurses putting their lives in the line treating COVID-19 patients to caregivers at my mother’s rest home, which is under quarantine, choosing to stay at the home with their patients -to landlords reducing their rent because their tenants have lost their jobs. As many have said before, how we act in times of crisis is what defines us.  In the Redeemer devotion this morning which is based in John chapter 13 we see what defined Jesus right to the end was his love.  If you have your Bibles with you, can I encourage you to turn to John chapter 13: verses 1-15.

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

This morning I want us to dwell on Jesus’ statement “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”

In this unexpected act of foot washing, Jesus communicated something profound about the nature of divine love. Love is not simply what Jesus does, but love is actually who he is.  It is part of his identity.

Often when we consider loving someone, we think in terms of actions and behaviors. We ask ourselves, “What’s the loving thing to do?”

But Jesus’ unexpected, self-effacing act of service came out of his very nature and this should make us reflect on whether we have taken on Christ’s nature sufficiently that love has also become part of who we are.

Its sobering to think that we can unknowingly place limits on our love because we are not operating out of a gospel-transformed identity. For example, if we functionally see ourselves as orphans needing to look out for ourselves instead of as God’s beloved children, we will limit our generosity towards others out of fear of not having enough.

Likewise, if we think we are righteous by our own hard work, there will be boundaries to the way we are willing to serve others because our pride keeps us from serving those who “aren’t deserving.”

But when we look to Christ - we find a beautiful freedom to serve others, arising from the security of his identity: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant …” (Phil 2:6-7, NIV).

Jesus was able to serve in a way no one expected because he knew the Father’s love intimately. The same heart that led him to wash the disciples’ feet would lead him to the cross. Because of Christ we have the same privileged status and security with the Father, and so we become free to serve in the radical, loving ways in which he has served us.

May God's peace and protection be with you.

God bless

Pastor Jonathan


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