“[Jesus] got up from supper, and laid aside His garments, and taking a towel, He girded Himself.”
This particular season of motherhood has been difficult, which I know many of you can relate to. Exhaustion and being simply worn out has led me to feel less like Jesus and more like the towel He tied around His waist—grimy, used, and a little frayed around the edges.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just sit and enjoy a hot meal without having to get up 800 times throughout the meal to wipe somebody’s butt or clean up spilled milk or visit the public restroom for the fourth time since our arrival to the restaurant.
In those moments, I look to the Lord for strength, but honestly, sometimes I don’t feel any stronger. I often find myself praying, “Lord, I know you are my help and my strength, so I look to you, but what exactly does your help look like in this moment?”
One week as I was struggling in this area, our pastor preached a sermon about having a servant’s heart, and He used this story about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the last supper as the key text.
If you are unfamiliar with this story, or need a refresher, refer to John 13:1-16.
In all the times that I have read this gem of a story, I missed the timing. It was during the meal that Jesus rose from the table to wash the feet of his dear disciples.
If I were to look to Jesus, truly look to him…at him…I would see the help He is trying to provide. After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet He told them,
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you…Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
The help He is trying to give me is the example He set for me. He said it Himself, blessing comes in doing as He did. Here are 3 lessons we can pull out of the key verse (John 13:4) as we look to Him for help and follow His example:
- He got up from His supper.
Yes, this was an interruption, but He did it anyways. Maybe this doesn’t help you right now. Or maybe, if you are like me, it helps you simply because you know Jesus can relate. Sometimes hearing, “Me too,” is enough in moments of frustration. Find rest in knowing that Jesus knows how you feel when you get back to your meal and it’s cold.
Not only that, this was the last meal Jesus would ever share with His disciples on Earth before He was crucified. I think it’s safe to assume that Jesus had the bigger picture in mind. He knew that His time with these followers of His was soon coming to an end, so He took advantage of every last opportunity to teach them. We can follow His example in this way too. Our time with our children is short. Are we going to spend that time grumbling about the dinner time interruptions, or seize every opportunity we can and use it as a teachable moment?
- He laid aside His outer garments.
When my pastor, Charlie Jones, preached on this part of the passage, he drew the parallel that laying aside our outer garments symbolizes laying aside things that may get in the way of serving others. If we are going to have the heart of a servant, there are some things we have to lay aside—selfishness, pride, anger, impatience, or preferences.
- He girded Himself.
This means He took a towel and tied it around His waist. He put on the garb of a servant. There are a few different places in the Bible where we are called to put on specific attire. The armor of God is one example, but I’d like to draw your attention to Colossians 3:12-14, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
I don’t know about you, but things would really change if I purposefully clothed myself in my servant clothing—compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience—before tending to my people.
Lord Jesus, You are my Lord and Teacher, and you teach us great things through the example you left for us in the way you lived. Lord, I want to love like you do. Yes, I know this love is a love that is beyond what I can give, so I look to you for help and strength. I am purposing in my heart right now, to serve my family through the overflow of your love. Help me to stop seeing interruptions as annoyances, but instead help me to see them as opportunities to teach and to love my people. Strip my heart of anything that may get in the way of serving, and clothe me with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Love them through me, Lord. I love you. Amen.