John 13:14-15, 17
Reading the words of our Savior, we need to realize the tremendous emphasis He put on obedience. As I think about appropriating Christ’s model and commands, three specifics seem important enough to mention.
First, obedience means personal involvement. Jesus told His disciples, “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). We cannot serve one another in absentia or at arm’s length. It means if someone is drowning in a troubled sea, we get wet, we get in touch. It means if someone drifts away, we don’t ignore that person, we reach out to help and restore. Think about this. Honestly now, are you willing to get involved and help at least one person in need? Willingness must precede involvement.
Second, obedience requires Christlike unselfishness. He said it Himself, “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (13:15). Let your eyes dig into those words. To pull off this concept, we’ll need to see others as Christ sees them. We’ll need to risk reaching out, giving up the luxury of staying safe . . . giving up our preferences for His. Unselfishness never comes easy.
Finally, obedience results in ultimate happiness. I love Jesus’s affirmation, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (13:17). Notice, in the final analysis, happiness comes from doing these things. Meaning what? Namely this, we have to carry it out before we can enter into the joy of serving. Just studying about it or discussing it produces no lasting happiness. The fun comes when we roll up our sleeves, wrap the towel around our waist, and wash a few feet . . . quietly . . . graciously . . . cheerfully like Christ who was “gentle” and “humble in heart.”
Does that mean it will never backfire on us? Am I saying those with servant hearts will not get ripped off or hurt in the process? Does this promise of happiness mean we’ll be protected from suffering? No, a thousand times no! To keep everything realistic, we must face the very painful consequences. Even when we have been “gentle” and “humble in heart.”
What else can we expect? The perfect Model of obedience finished His earthly ministry as a corpse on a cross.