April 7. Reading and Leading Up to Easter. John chapter 13.

Friday, April 7                                  John 13

Holy Meal – Holy Service

In many ways, John’s Gospel is different from the other three Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  These first three are called the Synoptic Gospels.  “Synoptic” means “seeing together” or “of similar view.”  They are in so many ways similar – even to the point of identical words in many places.  But John is different. 

The evening before Jesus is betrayed, arrested, and sent to trial, He had supper with His disciples.  We call it the Last Supper, and celebrate it today as the Lord’s Supper or Holy Eucharist.  It is a major part of Christian worship. 

In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), we find the classic story of this covenant meal.  It is the Passover seder observed by Israel from the days of Moses, complete with bitter herbs, unleavened matza bread, and four cups of wine.  Jesus elevates this ancient observance making it the inauguration of His New Covenant.

John’s Gospel tells the story from a remarkably different perspective.  The actual meal is barely mentioned (John 13:2, and 4).  John doesn’t tell us about a meal but about an action of service – humiliating service.  John’s version of “The Last Supper” is Jesus washing dirty feet.  There is nothing haughty, “holy”, or high level about this.

Jesus’ incredible moral superiority shines here.  Instead of holding Himself as “a cut above,” savoring the adoration of His followers, He kneels.  He picks up a towel and washes feet.   This is certainly not the job of the top guy.  It is the most menial task at hand.

How does this correspond to our understanding of the Lord’s Supper?  In short, Christianity is practical.  Our religious rituals are all great in that they remind us of eternal truths.  But, it must translate into selfless service.  It doesn’t matter how right our doctrines may be if we don’t serve with humility and love.

Jesus gives us the example.  He sits at the holy meal.  He, at the same time, kneels in holy, humiliating service.

Let’s be like Jesus.