During the Easter season, my wife and I attended a church service where the participants sought to model the events that Jesus and His disciples experienced on the night before He was crucified. As part of the service, the church staff members washed the feet of some of the church volunteers. As I watched, I wondered which was more humbling in our day—to wash another person’s feet or to have someone else wash yours. Both those who were serving and those being served were presenting distinct pictures of humility.
When Jesus and His disciples were gathered for the Last Supper (John 13:1-20), Jesus, in humble servanthood, washed His disciples’ feet. But Simon Peter resisted, saying, “You shall never wash my feet!” Then Jesus answered, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me” (13:8). Washing their feet was not a mere ritual. It could also be seen as a picture of our need of Christ’s cleansing—a cleansing that will never be realized unless we are willing to be humble before the Savior.
James wrote, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). We receive God’s grace when we acknowledge the greatness of God, who humbled Himself at the cross (Phil. 2:5-11).
My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine; Now hear me when I pray, take all my sin away, O let me from this day be wholly Thine! —Palmer
The most powerful position on earth is kneeling before the Lord of the universe.
In ancient Israel, the task of foot-washing was necessary because of the open shoes worn in streets filled with dirt and refuse. Because it was such an unpleasant task, it was usually assigned to the lowest servant in the house. Here Jesus Himself performed this menial job (John 13:3-5).
Charles Whittlesey was a hero’s hero. Leader of the so-called “Lost Battalion” in World War I, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery when his unit was trapped behind enemy lines. When the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated, Charles was chosen to serve as pallbearer for the first soldier laid to rest there. Two weeks later, it is presumed that he ended his own life by stepping off a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.
Like Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-7), Charles was publicly strong, but in the quiet, post-public moments, his feelings of despair set in. People today frequently face situations bigger than they can handle. Sometimes it’s temporary despair brought on by fatigue, as in Elijah’s case. He had been part of a great victory over the prophets of Baal (18:20-40), but then he feared for his life and ran into the wilderness (19:1-3). But often, it’s more than despair and it’s more than temporary. That’s why it is imperative that we talk about depression openly and compassionately.
God offers His presence to us in life’s darkest moments, which enables us, in turn, to be His presence to the hurting. Crying out for help—from others and from God—may be the strongest moment of our lives.
Father, grant us the candor to admit to each other that sometimes life overwhelms us. And grant us the courage to help others find help—and to seek it when we need it.
Hope comes with help from God and others.
Elijah, deemed Israel’s greatest prophet, was highly revered and well spoken of by the Jews, by the Lord Jesus Himself, and by the apostles (Matt. 17:10-11; Luke 1:17; Rom. 11:2-4, James 5:17-18). He appeared with Moses at the transfiguration of Jesus (Matt. 17:3). Because Elijah did not die (2 Kings 2:1), the Jews believed he would come back again (Mal. 4:5). Many scholars believe that Elijah will be one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11.
Dava Sobel’s award-winning book Longitude describes a dilemma faced by early sailors. They could readily determine their latitude north or south of the equator by the length of the day or height of the sun. Calculating east/west longitude, however, remained complex and unreliable until English clockmaker John Harrison invented the marine chronometer. This was “a clock that would carry the true time from the home port . . . to any remote corner of the world,” thus enabling sailors to determine longitude.
As we navigate the seas of life, we also have a reliable source of spiritual direction—the Bible. The psalmist wrote, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97). Rather than occasionally glancing at God’s Word, he spoke of pondering the Lord’s directions throughout each day: “Your testimonies are my meditation” (v.99). This was coupled with a commitment to obey the Author: “I have sworn and confirmed that I will keep Your righteous judgments” (v.106).
Like the mariners of old, we need a constant guide to help us find our way and stay on course. That’s what happens when we seek the Lord day by day with an open heart and a willing spirit that says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
We need God’s guidance from above, His daily leading and His love; As we trust Him for direction, To our course He’ll give correction. —Fitzhugh
With God as your navigator, you’re headed in the right direction.
In today’s reading, we find a portion of the psalmist’s great homage to the Word of God. The verses describe the Word as commandments (v.98), testimonies (v.99), precepts (vv.100,104), and judgments (vv.102,106). He also pictures the Word as honey (v.103) and a lamp (v.105). One idea repeated in this text is that of the singer’s response to the Word, which is meditation (vv.97,99). The word meditate means “to reflect on.” It is a common theme in psalms that speak of the Scriptures—beginning with Psalm 1, which describes the blessed person as the one who meditates on the Word “day and night” (v.2). The word for meditate comes from the Hebrew word habah, which means “to be preoccupied with,” and is also used of a cow chewing its cud in order to more readily absorb the nutrients.