Love makes itself known in surprising ways. In the maternity ward, the expectant parent who jokes at the baby shower that he doesn’t change diapers suddenly becomes a diaper changing pro. Love makes us adept at those things we would avoid if we didn’t care so much. Love clips elderly toenails when needed. Love holds a hand during a diagnosis, then takes notes for the patient. Love waits at the bathroom door with a warm washcloth and cold water. Love does tedious, difficult things not only because someone must, but because those acts express how we feel.
Jesus loves his disciples to the end. Cleaning their feet surprises them not only because Jesus stoops to take on a dirty task, but because the extraordinary love he expresses catches them off guard. And then he underlines what they have just experienced so they won’t miss what it means, saying, “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (v. 15). As the meaning of this command to wash one another’s feet sets in, Jesus says something equally stunning: “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (v. 17). He does not limit this blessing for those who express their love through tedious acts of service to the future. Rather, he makes such blessedness present tense. Even in the most challenging circumstances and the longest nights, those who give themselves to love know the truth of what Jesus says and does.
The strength to give ourselves comes from the awareness that we are God’s people. The one thing we need to do to fulfill God’s hopes for us is love others. All that matters in the end is that we love.
What self-giving things that you have done out of love have blessed your life?
God, your stunning way of love amazes us. Lead us to take on those tasks that let us experience your presence and joy as we do them. Amen.