“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:15
I guess I’m like a snail, Lord. I’ve only moved on to the next verse from yesterday. But, I’d rather be like a snail in the house of my God, than dwell elsewhere. The longer in Your presence, the better. I’m in no rush. And this morning, I want to spend more time looking at Your example because I want to do as You do and as You have done to me.
You tell me, “For I have given you an example.” I want to look at two words here, “given” and “example.” Because I don’t think it’s just that You’ve set an example for me to follow, even though that is part of it. But I think it goes even deeper. So, I want to look at “given,” “didomi” in Greek and make sure I’m not missing anything on this round of digging into Your Word, Your Truth, of digging into Your heart.
So, searching out “didomi” led me to the account of Matthew 25:15 where the servants are given five talents, two talents, and one talent to care for until the Master returns. It’s the same word used here. And Skip Moen, who knows the original language better than me, points out that the emphasis of the word is “on the beneficial outcome to the recipient and the character of the giver, not on the gift itself. The Master Accountant gives. Stewardship is expected… The point of the parable is putting the assets to use…The purpose of the gift is to be used regardless of the outcome. Risk-taking is part of God’s economy.” You mean God calls me to be a risk-taker? Absolutely. Check out His example.
My friend Skip (well, at least I’d like him to be someday!) continues to say, “We could extend this parable to other aspects of our lives. We could ask questions about how much we are risking for God in our daily walk, in our diligent pursuit of His instructions, in our reckless abandonment to His restoration of the Garden…We could make these applications to our relationships, our community commitments, our willingness toward changing God’s world for good.” He even goes on to say that we should take our financial assets and invest them in others. We should choose a business we frequent and determine to help them succeed by regularly investing our money and ourselves in them and telling them so. In that way our life becomes an investment in theirs and we begin living out the Gospel without words.
Which leads me back to our foot washing story. Because sometimes the Gospel is lived out and not spoken. Sometimes people have to see it in our lives because words can be deceiving. You, our Master, gave us this example. I’m responsible to follow it.
Your example was more than just washing the dirty feet of Your disciples. It was the example of Your humbleness, Your character, Your love, Your compassion. It was the whole package that is You. You respond differently than us, differently than the world. And Your character and Your response is to be my response.
You are my Example, “hupodeigma” in Greek. You are an Exhibit for imitation or warning. In this case it means “to show under.” David P. Stephens in Jesus Our Example likens the image unto laying an original image under a piece of tracing paper and meticulously copying the image until what you have is a replica of the original. He continues to say that we should, ” emulate His spirit of humility and His actions of service.” We are to have “an attitude of humility and action involving service.” But I feel I must add that this attitude must be of You because it is so easy for me to let my own attitude reign, and then I wouldn’t be displaying Your image but my own.
Now, in asking the question, “What does that mean You want me to do?” I come up with one more word I have to dig into. It comes in Your phrase, Jesus, where You continue to say, “that you should do as I have done.” And this is really important. Because of the two words that John could have chosen to express meaning, this form of “do”, “poieo” goes deeper. It does mean to make or to do but it is the making or doing that flows from ones character or, in this case, that flows from Your character in me. In Smitty’s Thoughts on the worldwide web, he shares that it’s primary definition is to create, and the secondary is to do. It can’t be helped or guided because it flows from the character like artwork flows from the artist or fruit grows from a tree. It is when Paul does what he doesn’t want to do. It’s the way that God created. It’s the way that You, Jesus, do what God commands and how I come to do so. It’s the word used for how we do Your works and greater. Who I put in is Who will come out.
“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” So, what did flow from Your character? I see actual service of the humblest nature. I see cleaning people’s dirty feet. I see touching lepers. I see building relationships and taking time with prostitutes. I see eating and sleeping and spending time with Your disciples and with people. And I see so much more. But I see the God of Heaven’s armies stooping down lower than me to touch me and care for me and make me whole. You took risks and went the extreme for me. I’m to follow those risks and extremes for others because in doing (in letting it flow out from who You have made me) it for others, I’m returning it to You as I live in You.
“If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” Lord, this is so wonderful! You’ve made me to know. You’ve put Yourself inside of me. I’ve experienced these things first hand from You even to the point of having a sister in the Lord care about my dirty feet! I’ve experienced You abiding in me and me in You. I know. And You say, if I live in You and abide in You and let You flow from me I will be happy. But happy is such a poor word to express the Greek word “makarios” here. I will be supremely blessed, “the state of one who has become a partaker of God; to experience the fullness of God.” This is how I experience You. This is my life. You are my Life! You flow in and You flow out. You didn’t just give me an example to show, You gave me something to be, because You make me like You from within and it flows out like beautiful art.
Lord, I need You. I need to live in Your example. Thank You for giving Yourself to me and within me and changing me so that what flows is of You and not of me. Thank You for the shear joy of experiencing the fullness of God in You and sharing that with others. Thank You that You use my life and the little things I do, because I’m kind of a nobody by the world’s standards and I haven’t got much to give. But I can wash people’s feet, I can carry things for them, I can love on them, I can see people’s needs and help them seek Your provision, and I can be a part of touching others with my hands and life for You. I can show love not only with all I am but with all of You. And You use more than words. And I can use more than words. You spent time with children, Lord. And that’s why I loved You for the very first time. Because I knew You would spend time with me. So let me be like You, whatever it takes, whatever the risks. I want to love with the love of God in word and action. But let my life speak for You. Let my life paint the picture that is in Your heart.