My husband LOVES Pawn Stars, the reality show on the History Channel featuring business at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In one episode a man brought in a violin he had found in an old chest in a barn he had recently purchased. After dusting it off, he discovered the word Stradivarius inscribed on the inside. He brought it to the pawn shop –of course, hoping to discover it was genuine – meaning it could be worth millions of dollars.
An expert was called in to examine the near-perfect instrument. He relayed the sad news. No, it was not a Stradivarius after all. Just a cheap imitation produced not in the early 1700’s, but 200 years later in the early 1900’s. His final words to the disappointed owner,
Just because something has a label doesn’t mean it’s real.
In John 13 Jesus demonstrates His genuine love to the disciples, using a basin and a towel.
The creator of the universe, the Savior of the World, the King of Glory, chose the indignity of washing the dirty, stinky feet of a group of guys who had been walking in sandals on dusty roads.
Jesus doesn’t just tell them to love one another, He demonstrates what that looks like. He was modeling love and mercy and grace.
It’s noteworthy that Judas, the betrayer, also received a foot washing. Jesus knew Judas would sell Him out, but He still chose to wash His feet. Extraordinary!
The example of Jesus means our acts of love and mercy are not conditional on whether the recipient is deserving. The focus is on the one extending the grace and mercy.
In fact the more innocent the foot washer and the more guilty and undeserving the washee–the greater the example of Christ-like love on display.
I might (on a good day) submit to washing the feet of a friend who loves me, but it’s uncomfortable to even think about doing such a humble task for someone who has criticized, condemned, or just been right down mean to me.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13: 14-15
Jesus didn’t just tell us to love – He showed us how. He wants us to extend love and grace and mercy to dirty, undeserving people – -just like He did.
And we can — not because we’re so great, but because His greatness lives in us through the Holy Spirit.
Foot washing for us might be extending forgiveness. It might mean staying in a hard marriage. It might mean serving a demanding relative. It might mean forgiving a friend who has betrayed you.
“I can’t do that!” you say.
Yes, you can. Because He lives in you. He will equip you for what He calls you to do.
When we love sacrificially and illogically, we love like Jesus. How can you and I take up a proverbial towel and basin and live love this week?