One Way Love

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45 NASB

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. … 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the 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, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. – John 13:1, 3-5, 12-14 NASB

“Do you know what I have done to you?” I think when we read or when preachers preach this passage, we tend to skip over this question. We want to get to the heart of things, which we assume is the “ought”. You ought to wash each other’s feet. This is true, we should do this. Belief in grace means belief in grace for everyone. But there is an important observation to be made here.

Jesus never asked anyone to wash His feet. He did not come to be served, but to serve.

Let’s put that in perspective. If I were God, the creator of the universe, master of space and time, and I had condescended to come to earth and speak to humankind, I would do things a little differently. I would say, “look, puny humans. I created the whole universe. I incarnated. I have gone to a lot of trouble here. So, get your butt over here and wash my dirty feet! Kneel down and serve me!”

Fortunately, I am not God. God is not like me. The unbelievable message of the gospel is this: God comes to us as a servant. I don’t think we let the shock of this settle in enough. God Himself wants to serve me! God wants to hear my requests, to do my bidding. God wants to kneel down and wash my dirty feet! God wants, of all things, to be my servant! (Philippians 2:6-8) Apparently, He is not so concerned that I serve His interests, as that I allow Him to serve my interests. This was the essential substance of His argument with Peter in John 13:

6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” – John 13:6-8 NASB

Our flesh is not that which refuses to serve God. Our flesh is that which refuses to receive God’s service. “The Son of God did not come to be served, but to serve.

I contend that until we have come to be astonished by what He has done for us, we shall be useless in service to others. We must first know what He has done to us. We must be still, cease our frenetic acts of serving, and know that He, and only He, is God. (Psalm 46:10)

It is, indeed, One-Way Love!

“Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable. – Paul Zahl

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  1. “Love simply loves loving” is a statement that I remember from a sermon that I listened to a while ago. Meaning that when God loves us we just cannot repay Him or manipulate Him to love us more through our own service. He is free in His love towards us and it is not even conditioned on our response. This can be so hard for us to accept since it’s so unnatural. As people we often withdraw our ‘love’ when the other person is not receiving it the way we would like them to.

    And yet like many other people I have come to know God and His love through the unconditional love that I have received from one of His children. This is how I realized that somehow God must be different than what I always thought. God was drawing me through His love rather than by threat, which will never take us very far. He wants us to be changed on the inside.

    Just wanted to say thank you, Jim, by leaving a comment. Your blog is always refreshing to read with
    amazing observations and clarifications! God bless you!

  2. A couple times it says Jesus “knowing”. I don’t think we know but we love the ought but as you said. We haven’t gotten settled with the first part and we don’t know what He’s done to us. I still get overwhelmed reading some things in scripture like recently Jesus’ lineage that I couldn’t even get past the first several verses. That God would flip the script and make it about His love for us is mind boggling. That God would still give us Jesus through murderers, adulterers, etc as that scripture shows boggles my mind. Literally He could have said “David you messed up and went to far and Abraham you lied too much. And Solomon why did you have so many wives. I would have given you my Son through your descendants but I’m going to use another line that really loves Me.” I just wish like you Jim we’d be more astonished with these things. Thanks for the post.

  3. I got myself into a situation last night that could have turned out badly but didn’t. Still nonetheless it affected me but Jesus is saying “do you know what I have done to you?” Thank God I don’t need to do this myself. He’s already done it. I remember JP talking about this as well because we continually get dirty but He’s washed us and cleansed us. I’m glad you have this post still up Jim. Thanks again.

    • Gahigi, I don’t know where you’re at these days, but I wanted you to know that I love you man!! I’m sure God is showing you beautiful things these days. I pray for many blessings for you.

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