Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 5, 2012

the full extent

It is only the context of our modern definition of a day that allows me to choose the inspiration for today’s post.  What I write about did not, in fact, happen on the calendar day Thursday as the Jewish people would have defined it.  Aligned with the truth and timing of creation, the ancient’s day began at sundown.  Therefore correctly understood in context, the event where I draw my inspiration actually happened in the early hours of Friday in Jesus’ “last” week.  And while its significance is my primary motivator, its timetable in our context makes it “fit” well for today. 

In traversing days, I am also leaving the gospel of Mark, where so much of my scriptural references have come this week.  And if you permit me a minute to chase a “squirrel,” I want to share my excitement about this quarter’s focus on the Journey onWord site.  Over the past few years spending time in all four of the gospels during holy week, I have come to love their uniqueness and diversity.  Uniqueness in choosing different stories or events to tell, and diversity in their perspective or emphasis on the stories and events they share.  This quarter I am looking forward to not rushing through the entirety of them and slowing down to look at one specific story or event each week, so I can pour over what each of the writers has to share about it. (Now back to our regularly scheduled “squirrel.”)

You likely know today’s story well, and for most of my life I thought I knew it well too.  But it took only a matter of minutes, a few years ago in the midst of a Sunday School class full of 3rd to 6th graders to truly experience the story and convince me that I didn’t really know it at all.  Its collision with my Christian sensibilities has forever changed the way I view or approach communion.  It’s the preamble to the first communion, the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.

Overall, Thursday in the last week of Jesus must have been one of preparation.  There is not much said other than Jesus giving the disciples instructions on finding the room and preparing it for the Passover meal he would share with them later that night (or early the next morning, to be contextually correct).  John chapter thirteen’s beginning finds us at the scene of the Passover meal.  And before anything gets going, John begins with these words in verse 1…

Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

The full extent of his love … OK, brace yourself; this is going to be huge!  The God-man who up to this point has: made wine from water, fed thousands starting with only scraps of food more than once, healed people from miles away or with the mere touch of his robe, and raised people from the dead is about to show the full extent of his love.  This is going to be epic!

Jesus gets up from the table, takes off his outer clothes, wraps a towel around his waist, grabs a basin, fills it with water and begins to wash the feet of his disciples.  Wait a minute … Huh?!  Is this right?  This is the full extent?  This is love?  Yes, yes, yes … and for all the other questions, YES!  This is a Jesus-sort-of-kingdom moment.  This is the sum total of his last-shall-be-first teaching.  This is the King who was born in a feed trough in a stable.  This is the King who rode into his coronation parade on the back of a young donkey.  This is the King who was anointed by an unnamed woman in the house of a leper.

And as Jesus calmly but confidently answered Peter’s challenge to this foot washing, He sent a clear message to his disciples and to the countless generations that would follow …

So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. (John 13:14-15 MSG)

In removing his clothes and taking this posture, Jesus Christ showed us the standard for his kingdom.  To belong, you must become a servant, because in his words in the very next verse …

No servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (NIV)

This is the King who left his Father’s side with one, and only one, purpose to fulfill.  This is the King who is not being led along but is intentionally walking towards the cross.  This is the King that will take all sins for all time on himself and endure the worst possible suffering (literal separation from his Father) for me and for you.  This is MY King, and I earnestly pray that he is YOUR King as well.

This is my challenge to you before resurrection day ends.  Find someone, and wash their feet.  Seriously, do it.  And do it in the King’s example.  We don’t still wear sandals as our primary footwear, and our streets are not composed of the same grit and substance as the streets of the ancient’s. I do not believe that Jesus’ command was simply to humble yourself and serve others because people wore open shoes and walked on dusty roads.  I think we should all be obedient in the same way he was.  Take the challenge, and I think it will change you.  I think it will affect you in ways that you never could have expected.  If you take the challenge, I would love to hear about it.

He is Risen!  He is Risen, Indeed!


  1. This challenge, Challenges Me!

  2. The full extent of His love! Jesus, You probably saw the challenge that this would be to our current culture. The “full extent” becomes a fuller extent when I am asked to wash another’s feet.


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