by Marshall Moody

Have you ever had someone wash your feet? I’m not talking about a pedicure (I’ve never had one but I hear they’re nice), I’m talking about someone wanting to humbly serve you in the name of Jesus Christ?

About 20 years ago, the leaders of our church humbly and solemnly washed the community group leaders’ feet. This was an act of service and worship. As a community group leader at the time, I’ve got to be honest, for those whose feet were getting washed it was uncomfortable. I remember feeling completely unworthy and a bit ashamed. I felt like I should be washing their feet. I will never forget that act of service. This was an act of service by humble, devoted followers of Jesus to love him and to love others. In this way, Jesus showed those he loved how to love and he commands that we do it.

Sandwiched between Jesus’ washing his disciples’ feet and telling them that he is going away and will no longer be with them is John 13:34-35 where Jesus says, 34  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The theme of these verses is quite apparent as the command is repeated three times in two short verses: Love one another! Another verse that will help us understand and practically apply what it looks like to love one another is 1 John 3:18 which says, 18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

Hearing Jesus predict his betrayal and saying that he would no longer be with the disciples had to invoke a whole host of emotions in each one of them: fear, loneliness, and anger to name a few. Jesus even old Peter, the Rock (upon whom Jesus built his church), that he would disown him three times. Of course, all Jesus’ predictions come true. When Jesus was betrayed and arrested, the disciples scattered out of fear and confusion. The Rock lingered until he heard the cock crow for a third time “And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:75) Jesus disciples were alone, afraid, broken, confused, overwhelmed, and without their dear friend and leader. Have you been there? Recently? Today? Right now?

Jesus had prepared his disciples (and us) for times such as this. What was his solution (in the form of a command)? To love one another as he had loved them. As they came together in the chaos and confusion, the events of the last few days were likely vivid in their minds and the awe, shame and discomfort they felt when Jesus washed their feet likely lingered in their minds. In the John 13 passage, he answered a lot of the questions that they would have later and provided his timeless truth for when we have questions. What am I to do for you, Jesus? Love one another. Why? So that everyone will know that you are my disciples. How am I to love others? I showed you, wash one another’s feet – serve them, meet their needs with actions, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when you’re scared or angry or depressed or hurting or … “wash their feet” – serve others – die to self for others.

Believer, In the Scripture of God’s greatest commandments to love Him and love others, where are you? You are the doer of the commandment. You are the lover; you are the server; you are the one daily dying to self and Jesus gave you the perfect example of what it looked like – imitate him. Sorry, I just got on a roll and was really just talking to myself while typing. But, this universal, timeless truth does apply to you, to me, to us, to everyone who claims Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:18

So, as disciple-makers, what are we to do with this command? Live it out in actions and in truth; not just with words or speech. Discipleship requires sacrifice and investment of time, talent, treasure and prayer. For the sake of spiritual growth in one another, we must put Christ’s agenda for our life above our own. The great thing is that God will multiply the return on his investment exceedingly and abundantly. With the current states of national and international affairs – social and political division, economic uncertainty, oh, and yes, a global pandemic – this topic seems to be timely and relevant. The truth is, in
this fallen world, this topic is always timely and relevant and Christ’s command is always the same – love one another, in your actions and in truth. And rest in this truth, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) He is with us and commands us to love one another. So, go out and love one another in the Name of Jesus Christ! To wrap up, what can we do today, possibly right now:

  1. Confess your sin, ask God for forgiveness and ask him to use you in the area of discipleship
  2. Memorize the two Scriptures in this passage. John 13:34, 34 and 1 John 3:18
  3. If you’re not discipling someone, ask for God to send you someone – and be prepared because it may happen quickly
  4. If you don’t have a plan for how to disciple someone, find someone that has a plan – I’d love to
    share my plan with you
  5. If you are lukewarm or cold in your discipleship, reconnect with those who you have discipled in
    the past or those who have discipled you
  6. If you are discipling someone, drive on soldier in the Great Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Marshall Moody. Forgiven sinner and Jesus follower, husband and father, construction business manager, disciple maker, Arkansas Razorback lover and fly fisherman.

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