In his Gospel, John gives five chapters to the meal that Jesus shared with his friends before being arrested in the garden where he was praying. It was an uncertain time for them as they all approached the climactic events of Jesus’ mission and life walking the dust on this Earth. Today, as the world lives through this crisis, this words present themselves with a great deal of comfort and rest for our souls. Like the disciples, many of us find our hearts troubled and our faith taking a bit of a battering. This Coronavirus situation that was once in our prayers as we watched the news of the nations of the world suffering, is now very real to us as we witness our loved ones close to home begin to suffer.
Where is our hope these days?
During this meal and the prayer in the garden, Jesus faced such a whirlwind of human emotion. What was going through his mind as he washed the feet if his betrayer? How his heart must have smiled at Peter’s misunderstanding of having his feet washed my the Messiah. The love he has for his friends jumps off the pages as we imagine the scenes playing out. As he washes the grime and dust from their feet, he informs Peter that he must allow him to wash his feet, so he can be part of what Jesus is doing and who Jesus is. The One through whom all things are made, who hung the stars and who has been there since forever, washes the dirt from his friend’s feet. And then called them to do the same. This is how to follow, this is how to lead, this is how to serve - ‘watch how I do it, learn these rhythms of grace and love’.
Is our hope in the power that God has given Jesus? (John 13:3)
This new command lands gently yet powerfully - “….love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”. Are we known by our love? In this what defines us? Perhaps we could allow Jesus to love us first, love us through our brokenness and misunderstanding and misinterpreting; perhaps we could let Jesus love us when we struggle to love ourselves; perhaps we could let Jesus love us through times of grief, uncertainty, doubt and worry? Perhaps we could receive first, have our own feet washed by Jesus, before we wash those of others? Perhaps, we could just leave the false humility outside of this intimate embrace and allow Jesus to do his thing with us? Perhaps….
Is our hope in the love of Jesus?
Jesus is so deeply compassionate as he navigates human tendencies. We are prone to worry, fear and doubt. This season particularly seems the time for these things to surface in us. When his friends needed comfort Jesus reminds them who He is. He is the Son, He is the one who shows us the essence, nature and love of God, they have seen the Father because they have seen Jesus. John has reclined on Jesus, hearing and feeling the very heartbeat of God.
Jesus reminds them that He never leaves them as orphans. How much do we need to hear that today? We will not be left to fend for ourselves, we are not on our own. The Spirit of Truth, our guide, advocate and teacher will remind us of his beauty and wild goodness, and how to follow the way that he has walked.
Is our hope in the joy of Jesus?
We must remain connected to Jesus. The hour now may be late, as it was during this meal. The opposition may be fierce today as it was surrounding that upper room. The need to remain close to our source of life has never been greater, as it was for Jesus friends. Many deserted him at his time of need (the fact that in his humanness he needed them is truly astounding by itself), and yet the truth is that he never leaves us, never will abandon us at our time of need.
Jesus acknowledges grief. He doesn't skirt around it. Its a human reality. We live in the space between Edens. There is tragedy and trouble, but take heart. There is the foundational promise in our life with Jesus that we need to hold onto as an anchor for your souls - “…..your grief will turn to joy.”
Is our hope in the restoration?
Jesus’ prayers are ‘powerful and effective’. He prays for his loved ones and for the generations to come. His truth will change the world and the lives of those who follow the teaching of this little gang of ragamuffins. He prays the heart of God. Its all about union. Closeness. Intimacy. We are IN Him and He is in us. We are together. Synergy and grace. There is hope. Jesus reveals the love of God, and we reveal that love to world.
There is an empty tomb that Jesus walked out of. Let us not put him back in there. We live a resurrection life - forgiven and free, wildly beautiful, restored, whole and holy. The Kingdom of God is here, oh that we might truly have eyes to see. And yet there is more goodness coming. Jesus ascended to take His rightful place in the Kingdom. And yet the One who is called Faithful and True will keep firm to his promises. And we, who are dust and spirit, groan with all creation in eager anticipation.
For now, in crisis, we let the longings for a restored Eden and a time when every tear is wiped away by the soft and merciful hand of God rise up in us, and lead us into whole-hearted hopeful expectancy for the goodness of God in the land of the living.