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

Who is It?

Have you ever been betrayed by someone you loved? There are few things in life that can crush us the way that betrayal does. When you love someone deeply and have come to trust them with all of your intimate thoughts, your faults, your hopes, your insecurities, your future, etc. and then they turn on you like a rabid dog, it hurts deeply. I have known this pain. I’m sure you have, too.

So did Jesus.

As we make our way closer to the crucifixion, our text today drops us directly into the moment at the Last Supper when things came to a head. Jesus told his disciples to remember him in the future whenever they took the bread and shared the cup. As he distributed these things that would become the elements of Communion for believers, he looked around the table at his friends.

Imagine how close they all were at that point. They had worked together with Jesus for three long, hard years. They had gone without the necessities of life. They had left their homes, families, and vocations. They had suffered hunger and ridicule. They had bonded like brothers.

And then, betrayal happened.

John 13 (Common English Bible)

21 After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed and testified, “I assure you, one of you will betray me.”

22 His disciples looked at each other, confused about which of them he was talking about.23 One of the disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was at Jesus’ side. 24 Simon Peter nodded at him to get him to ask Jesus who he was talking about. 25 Leaning back toward Jesus, this disciple asked, “Lord, who is it?”

We have to ask ourselves the same thing today. Lord, who is it….is it I? Have I betrayed you?

We betray our Lord when we dismiss the sacrifice that he made on our behalf and pursue worldly things. When we neglect worship, forget to pray, leave our Bibles to gather dust on the shelf, fail to teach our children how to be disciples, ignore his commandments, and fall short in serving the poor and the hungry in his name, we betray him. When we turn away from these things, we are just like the one who sold him out that night.

The good news is, God is always a God of second chances. It is never too late to start again. Where is God calling you back? It’s time to come home to him.

Coming Home by Vic Miles

The Big Ten

No, this isn’t about football, although your girl here is a fan of her college team, which happens to be in the Big Ten…which has fourteen colleges in it. Strange math, if you ask me! But it lays the foundation for today’s devotional, which starts with the premise that God created a big ten of his own, to which Jesus effectively added an expansion that enhances, but does not eliminate, the original. I am talking, of course, about the Ten Commandments.

Some people have the mistaken idea that Jesus came to eradicate the original ten. They are wrong. While Jesus spoke against the minutiae of the many laws that were extra add-ons made by the rabbis of the day, the sanctity of the original ten remains paramount to this day.

Exodus 20 (Contemporary English Version)

 God said to the people of Israel:

I am the Lord your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt where you were slaves.

Do not worship any god except me.

Do not make idols that look like anything in the sky or on earth or in the ocean under the earth. Don’t bow down and worship idols. I am the Lord your God, and I demand all your love. If you reject me, I will punish your families for three or four generations. But if you love me and obey my laws, I will be kind to your families for thousands of generations.

Do not misuse my name. I am the Lord your God, and I will punish anyone who misuses my name.

Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me. You have six days when you can do your work, 10 but the seventh day of each week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day—not you, your children, your slaves, your animals, or the foreigners who live in your towns. 11 In six days I made the sky, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That’s why I made the Sabbath a special day that belongs to me.

12 Respect your father and your mother, and you will live a long time in the land I am giving you.

13 Do not murder.

14 Be faithful in marriage.

15 Do not steal.

16 Do not tell lies about others.

17 Do not want anything that belongs to someone else. Don’t want anyone’s house, wife or husband, slaves, oxen, donkeys or anything else.

Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? In Matthew, Jesus states that he has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Then he says this:

John 13:34 (Common English Bible)

34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other.

Think for a moment what the world would be like if we obeyed everything on this list. Think for a moment how different things would be if we just obeyed the new commandment given by Jesus. Wouldn’t the rest of the ten simply fall into place?

Imagine how changed your conversations would be with your family if all of the world lived under these commandments. What would your office “water cooler” conversations sound like? Not being able to lie or covet would certainly change the neighborhood. Sundays would be reverent again. Marriages would stay intact, or die trying. False idols would be forbidden and not tolerated, let alone revered. Our reverence for God would increase, as would our witness in the world. If we loved each other the way Jesus loves us, harmony would reign.

As you continue along on your Lent journey, take a look at this passage again and see how you measure up. God’s Big Ten (plus) still speak to us today. Where is God calling you to obey?

Just as I Have Loved You by Deena Sharp

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