The foot-washing scene from John 13: has done more for me than just about any text I have read from any source:
2 And supper being ended, . . .3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. . .
12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
This passage is one of the most meaningful passages in the Bible for me, because I spent so many years convicted by vain arrogance and egocentric obsession with myself and my own professional disappointments. I felt the world not only owed me a living, but a house in Beverly Hills, and a yacht in the Santa Monica marina. I felt superior to most of the musicians I worked with and was galled by my failure to garner recognition for my talents.
When I finally entered onto the spiritual path, I suddenly realized (with the help of this passage) that the truly superior man gives himself to humanity without regard to reward or recognition. I came to understand that I had a place in the Divine Hierarchy that was uniquely mine, and it was pointless to whine about not receiving the superficial trophies of worldly success which, by any historical definition, is fleeting, while the world of spirit offered me validation eternal in character and substance.
Giving without recompense is a hard row to hoe, especially when poverty has had such a debilitating effect on my self-esteem, and my power to care for and comfort my loved ones. Yet, very time I bemoan my fate, and rage against the unfeeling cruelty of the world, this passage returns to comfort me with the patience of Divine perspective. I know that my reward in Heaven will be great for every moment of time I have donated to those I teach and inspire; I know that every inspired lesson I have given and every inspired note of music I have written comes not from me but from God, and it is just plain silly to envy those who have learned to work the system to their own advantage, but have not learned that the coins of carnal Karma they trade in roots them ever more firmly in the dust of earth when, in humility, they might be trading simple gifts for eternal reward.
Furthermore, the act of the master humbling Himself before His disciples shows, once again that Jesus's mission on the material plane was one of eternal salvation not temporal glory and honor. If we could only remember this lesson in all our interactions with humanity, how holy our lives would become!
From Hebrews Chapter 2, Paul reminds us that the saint must reach out into the world with his heart, not grasping hands:
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified:
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? 7 You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor 8 and put everything under their feet.”
In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them.Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.” And again he says,
“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
April 12, 2011