John chapter 13 tells the story of Jesus washing His disciple’s feet.
In this amazing account, we see the Perfect serving the Imperfect. The disciples were the first members of the church. When I study this passage, I get a view inside Jesus’ method of change.
Did the disciples need to be changed? You bet. So, how did Jesus go about changing them?
If we look at this, I believe that we can learn how to deal with a church that is not perfect.
First, we see this phrase:
Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
When Jesus found His own, He loved them to the end.
Jesus stated that He had chosen His own.
I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. ISAIAH 41:9
This was God’s word to an imperfect Israel. Here’s His word regarding His disciples:
Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” John 6:70 English Standard Version
If you read this words as they are spoken, then you see two things: first, God chose the disciples in all their imperfections. Two, God chose one of them knowing he was motivated by the devil.
Repeat this to yourself: God chose an imperfect environment. Even the devil had his role to play in the journey.
And, His method of change for this imperfect environment was to love them to the end.
The Greek word used here to describe “to the end” is the word:
Telos: a) He loved them through each stage until all is fulfilled. b) He was willing to pay whatever cost to reveal His love
This is the word from which we get our word “telescope”. Being able to see the end while knowing where you are.
Another insight is that Jesus’ method of change did not include abandoning ship. Can you imagine how much “stuff” Jesus has put up with in His relationship with Israel and the church?
Jesus’ method of change involved:
Love rather than judgment
Presence rather than abandonment
After washing His disciple’s feet, Jesus said:
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
Here, Jesus introduced one more method of change:
Sharing rather than withholding
How many of our methods of bringing change are simply not in line with Jesus’?
I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
We are not to exalt our methods above His.
Jesus told His disciples that they would have a hard time understanding His methods.
What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.
Why would we understand later?
We would have His example coupled with His Spirit.
Pastor, what do we do about the devils among us?
Jesus knows who the devils are and will root out betrayal.
This requires trust in the Head of the Church. How does the Perfect effect change in the Imperfect? He serves it.
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.