All In

There was a time in the late 1990’s when the World Series of Poker took over people’s imagination. It was a clever production on ESPN, with under-the-table cameras revealing people’s cards, overhead cameras showing the entire table and chip count, flashy graphics, and lively play-by-play commentary. It was where viewers learned the phrase “all in.” All in refers to when a player with a great hand pushes all of his or her chips across the table at once, betting their entire winnings on one single hand in a go-for-broke moment.

We continue our study of John 13 today as we dive deeper into the Last Supper. The moment has arrived when Jesus decides to wash the feet of his disciples. It was a shocking moment for them. Foot washing was a common practice of hospitality in that time. Hosts would often offer this service with a basin and towel to travelers who had walked long, dusty roads. But for Jesus, their teacher, rabbi, and master to perform such an act was startling, to say the least.

What exactly was Jesus doing?

John 13 (The Message)

13 1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.

3-6 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”

It was a lesson in both humility and leadership. Jesus was setting the example of servant leadership by kneeling before his followers and performing this act of grace. He was teaching them that their role in the kingdom would be to do likewise…to love his followers, to care for their needs, and to never let their position overshadow the mission.

Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”

Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”

“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”

Peter comes out of his initial confusion with a proclamation of wanting to be all in for Jesus. Once he figures out what is happening, he pushes his chips across the table and wagers his entire being on that single act of grace.

How about you? Are you all in for Jesus? Or are you withholding something?

Many of us want to live lives that are sold out to his mission, but truth be told, there is some withholding going on. We hold back our resources, ignoring the call to tithe. We hold back our service, busying ourselves with pleasure pursuits. We hold back our openness to the marginalized. We hold back our unconditional love and judge others who offend or frighten us. In the end, very few of us are truly all in.

Today is a day to change that. When you figure out what it is that you are withholding from God, let go of it in the name of Jesus. It is never too late to push it all across the table and give it up for the kingdom.

Jesus calls us to be part of everything he is doing.

A Gift From My Mother

Love to Die For

Ever wonder what your last thoughts will be just before you die? (A dark subject, I know…) I imagine our thoughts will be about our lives and our loves. We may have sadness over unfinished business, memories of happy times, or recall words we wished we had said, or not said…

They say that in the moments just before dying, your “life flashes before your eyes,” like a video stuck in rewind. How we live today will determine the content. Will it be a movie filled with joy, laughter, shared love, and warm memories? Or will it be filled with regret?

More importantly, what can you do today to change how the video will play?

It is interesting to see what thoughts Jesus had in the hours before his death. He knew that he was at the very end of his life on that last night as he sat among friends having supper:

John 13 (The Message)

 1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.

“Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end.” His last hours were filled with active love. It was this love that would see its greatest manifestation the next day on the cross. Jesus’ entire life was love in action.

3-6 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”

Jesus’ love was manifested that night in a beautiful act of servanthood. It did not feel right to the disciples that the Master was going to get on his knees and wash their dirty feet. It almost felt like groveling.

Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”

Peter’s objection was in part his way of acknowledging Jesus’ authority over them. Looking at the filth on his bare feet, he cringed at the thought of his teacher, rabbi, master, and friend even touching them. But Jesus was trying to leave them with a very important message: “when you serve one another, that is when you have served me.”

Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”

“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”

We need to be like Peter and take the full immersion of Jesus’ washing. Only the blood of Jesus that flowed from the cross can truly make us clean. From our head to our toes, we need to allow him to cleanse us from the inside out.

Imagine if you were ask for complete cleansing, and commit to living a life of servanthood in his example. How different would your end-of-life video look?

It’s not too late. Jesus is waiting, with his basin and towel. On the night before he died, he thought not of himself, but of YOU.

Come to the water. Jesus is ready.

The Basin and the Towel