A New Commandment: Day 39 / by Jeff Tacklind

Traffic is insane today! It is Spring break, which means Laguna is flooded with tourists.  And tourists equal traffic.  And traffic equals frustration.

I’m not surprised at all that Patty’s car got hit this week.  There is something about driving in traffic that brings out the very worst in us.  Similar to our angry email responses, we feel that false illusion of separation that our cars provide, and we let all our selfishness and ego do the driving.  It is frightening.  And dangerous.

Last night was Maundy Thursday and our young adults group was studying Jesus’s last commandment.  He tells them to, “Love each other.”  That’s it.  But he describes it as a new commandment and clarifies that they are to love as he has loved them.  

Which means what?  It means wash each other’s feet.  Jesus has just given them an illustration and their final marching orders.  He says goodbye, and then tells them to wash each other’s feet.

But first they must let him wash their own.  And they are humiliated and scandalized by the whole thing.  By seeing their rabbi stripped down and serving them like a menial slave.  This is hierarchy in God’s kingdom.  The greatest are the least.  To be first you go last.  The leader is the servant.  And, at first, they find it offensive.  Unbearable.

He tells them that this is going to help them understand what comes next.  The illustration is something for them to hold on to. Because without it, the cross will make absolutely no sense at all.

And the next day, hanging there on the cross, Jesus is going to take the command to love a step further. He is going to pray a prayer of forgiveness for all those gathered.  His accusers. His enemies and oppressors.  His friends who have betrayed him.  “They know not what they’ve done.”

And here is the whole gospel in a nutshell.  You must humbly let yourself be washed clean.  And then you must wash the feet of others.  It is that simple.  And that impossible.

Because we can’t drive across town without cursing each other under our breath.  Or rationalizing our impatience.  Self-protecting our ego and fighting for our kingdom.

But God’s kingdom is found in the simple acts of service.  In the moments of humility and love.  In letting go of our way.  Yielding. As we do this, we receive something even deeper.  Glory. Unnoticed by us, but not by God. He smiles in pride, like a good father does.

As we concluded our young adult’s group, I challenged them to look for opportunities to wash feet. It is a convicting prayer. Because the fact is, opportunities are everywhere.  At every intersection.  And my ego, like Peter’s, at first refuses.  But these acts of serving others are crucial.  They transform us and the world around us.  They clean our hearts, and they wash the feet of others.

Like Gerard Manley Hopkins said,

Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.