We are drawing closer to Easter. It was announced yesterday that next Sunday is Palm Sunday. We will once again remember Jesus riding in on a donkey; we will recall the events of His last week on earth. I have been doing several Lenten devotions both in a book and online in my Bible app. My mind has already started spinning with all the events I have read. There are two words that have kept popping in my head as I read His word and study the last days of His life. Love and serve. They seem so simple, but they are complex words and words that are not often easy to live by.
Jesus has given us so many examples of ways to serve. I can’t even begin to list all of the scripture that points to Jesus teaching us to serve. Yet, for me there is one that stands out above all the others.
“The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:2-5) For me this is the ultimate example of a way to serve. He knew His time was coming to an end. He really wanted to leave them with something that would leave a big impression on them; something deep. I was not fortunate to have this happen to me, but I have heard people say just before their loved ones died they made a statement that made an impact on their life or they did something that really touched them. That is what Jesus wanted to do. In this act He wanted them to know they were to serve others; to put others ahead of their own needs.
“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” We find these verses later in the same chapter (15-17). Very clearly here He tells us what He did was an example for us to follow. We are to do as He has done for us. He goes on to say if we do we will be blessed. How many times have you done something for someone and then felt blessed by it? You were blessed not because of what they gave you in return; you were blessed because God blessed you in your serving. I can’t recall the number of times I have gone on mission trips and came home feeling blessed. I can remember being called to help out a friend who was in the hospital. I served her in a way that she needed. I was blessed because of it. Not because of anything she did for me in return, but I saw the peace that came over her face. I relieved some stress for her.
There are so many ways we can serve one another. I have a good friend that serves her neighbor taking him to doctor’s appointments and out to eat. She recently moved into a different neighborhood, but she still serves him. I see how blessed she is. I hear people talk about calling on folks just to see how they are doing and when they are finished with the visit they feel blessed. I know we are all busy and these are busy times, but this isn’t on Jesus’ wish list. He didn’t say, “I wish you’d serve others.” This was a commandment. I don’t think we ever get to old to serve. When we are not physically able to serve I think God calls us to serve in other ways. I think of prayer. We are never too old to pray for others or send cards or call someone on the phone just to let them know they are thought about. Serving is what God has called us to do. What ways are you serving Him today?
Of course the ultimate example of love for many is Jesus dying on the cross for all of us. That is as it should be, but there is another example of love in that same scene.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27) Jesus death on the cross for us is the ultimate example of love for us, but I think these verses also share an example of how we are to love others. In His dying moments He saw the anguish in His mother’s eyes. I can’t imagine Him looking down on her and her up to Him knowing they couldn’t do anything for each other, but He does do something for her. He releases her to the Disciple’s care and love. He asks another to love and care for her; to stand in the gap. I think Jesus knew she needed someone to love and care for in His place so He gave the Disciple to her as well. I believe Jesus was calling us to love those around us who has no one to care for them. I think He wants us to be a mother or grandmother, father or grandfather to those who do not have someone in their lives to teach them and show them the way. Maybe you are to be a son or daughter for someone who has no children.
This is a different world than when I grew up. We lived in a time when families were all together. Grandparents and children lived close by. Aunts and Uncles were nearby as well. Families got together quite often to celebrate or just spend time together. Now days, children and parents often have to go where work is. That may mean a different part of the state or even country. I believe Jesus knew this was going to happen and for Him this was the perfect example to share so others may fill in when there is a need.
In your neighborhood alone there might be a mother or dad or grandparent that has no one. There are children who may be left home alone for small periods of time in the evening waiting on mom and dad to come home from work. I think each of us can stop for a minute and think of that one person who is alone. I think God calls us to come and stand in the gap. I think He calls us to love those who no longer have loved ones near them.
There is so much we can glean from Jesus last week here on earth, but for me it’s all about examples of serving others and loving those who He has placed in my path. You may get something different from this week and that’s okay. Let’s just not let Christ’s last week on this earth be anything but a life changing experience. Let it not be for us just a story we read, or a celebration we attend or a time of remembrance. Let His story be a life changer for us.
Dear God: I can’t imagine how hard it was for you to let your Son come to earth and die as He did. What a sacrifice you have made for me and all those who follow in Christ’s steps. Let Christ’s life not be just a nice story and let His last week not just be a celebration or a remembrance for me, help it to be a life changer for me. Help me to serve when you call me to serve and help me to love those you have put in my path. Thank you for allowing your Son to die so I might live. Amen.