I was asked this week the question, “What tables would Jesus overturn if he walked into your church? Your life?” Immediately a few things came to mind, what I would consider “obvious” things in our society that Jesus wouldn’t be the happiest with. But as I was reading through John today, I was slapped upside the head with something that got thrust to the top of my list.
“Jesus knew the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into the basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” [John 12:3-5]
STOP. Did you catch it? Did you see it?
Let me back up just a little bit.
At the beginning of John 13, Jesus knows his time is coming. He’s starkly aware of that fact, because he is able to discern the will of the Father. How? Because of his 30-ish hidden years of anonymity that helped hone his discernment, which prepped him for his ministry (That’s a whole other topic… has anyone else read Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole? Please read it and then talk to me about it cause I have THOUGHTS). What he also knew, aside from his time coming, was that one of his trusted disciples would betray him. All of these thoughts rushing around his head, and also throw in the fact that he is the Messiah, and he’s got quite the power position above all of these men.
Jesus could have easily made his disciples kneel around him and pompously boast about his huge part in history.
Jesus could have easily called out the disciple who was going to betray him, and have the others “take care” of him.
Jesus could have easily set forth a miracle with his power to change history, so he wouldn’t have had to have the iniquity (and the pain) of us all laid upon him.
Jesus could have easily…used his power in this moment to get what he wanted. And the thing is, he knew it too.
“Jesus knew the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.”
In those moments before the last supper, Jesus knew it didn’t have to be his last supper. He knew he had the power and authority to make all this upcoming pain go away, to make the leaders that had been persecuting him pay, to make the doubting disciples not have another doubt in their mind.
Yet- what was his next move?
“So, he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into the basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.”
STOP // please catch this /// please see //// please know…. Jesus served. He took the lowest of the low position, and served. In this swift moment He overthrew the preconceived notions the disciples had of who the Messiah should have been and replaced it with an act of love. An act of service. An act of care.
He must have seen the confused looks. He must have felt the awkward shift in the room. Yet he didn’t care.
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” [John 3:7]
He didn’t need to explain himself, because he had Kingdom perspective. He knew the Father’s will, he knew the Father’s plan, and he knew that there will be a point when all is right again, and when all would make sense. stunning.
Back to the original question, though: What table would be flipped?
Imagine if we lived in a world where the first action of someone in power was to serve. That instead of asserting your dominance, you extended love + grace? And I’m not just talking about people in power like your bosses, or policymakers, or government as a whole.
You possess power whenever you walk into a room. And whether you realize it or not, when you walk into the room and do anything, the atmosphere changes. That’s your power.
And what if you used that for good? What if you used that for love? What if you changed the atmosphere in a way that helped people realize their worth rather than putting them in their “place”?
The hierarchy of “importance” was shattered into a million pieces when Jesus knelt to wash their feet. And I think that whether Jesus today walked into the church or my life or both, that he would turn over this ballooned out importance we place on power and restructure our vision of power to be less about us, and more about what we can do for others + this world.
partner with Jesus >> be the vessel