On Sunday 22 March 2020, District Apostle J Kriel conducted a divine service which was translated and transmitted to the French-speaking regions of the NAC-SA area via the NACTV network from the Edenvale church building. The divine service was also made available to members who couldn’t attend the divine service in their local congregation. Many hours of preparation went into this divine service as members had to comply with the laws and decrees that were put in place during this period of crisis and uncertainty.
“Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” (John 13:6-8)
My dear brothers and sisters, it is a special blessing for us to gather. Some members gather in small numbers - current circumstances demand that of us. In going forward, we shall not be able to gather as we normally do. However, it is important to remember that the Lord’s blessing is guaranteed when we gather in His name even if it is by ourselves. He will give what is needed. We find ourselves in uncertain times, but dear brothers and sisters, I pray that the peace and calmness of the Lord may fill our hearts and souls. We go through circumstances, but we shall not panic. Our trust remains in our God! Our Chief Apostle reminded us in the first divine service of this year that we shall have circumstances. He reminded us of Paul, who also faced difficult circumstances. His conclusion; the Lord in whom we trust, delivers us. I want to write this word into all our hearts; our God will deliver us, and we shall trust in Him no matter what! Dear brothers and sisters, continue to believe, continue to live your faith, continue to bring offerings and sacrifices. In the coming weeks, we shall not be able to gather as we have previously done, but we all have an opportunity to live that which we have been taught.
Many of the gospels speak about the Passion time of Jesus as being a sad period. This chapter of John is often referred to by scholars as the book of glory. This event is the start of the Passion period of Jesus. He knew what was awaiting Him. Jesus was glorified in His crucifixion. Many must have thought that they defeated Jesus, but His crucifixion was a great victory. We know that it is the same Jesus that is with us today. The Bible word refers to Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. The supper that was celebrated was connected to the Passover, and Jesus’ actions surprised His disciples. After supper, He stood up, girded Himself with a towel and started washing their feet. He lowered Himself to do that and they were surprised. After all, He was the Lord and Master. Nonetheless, He wanted to give them a special message. During that period, it was culture to wash the feet of a guest who came into your home. There was more to Jesus washing the feet of His disciples than the tradition of the time. He wanted to prepare them for that which was going to happen in His life. He wanted to prepare them for the task which lay ahead. They were His Apostles, the ones whom He taught to further His work. For this reason, they had to be cleansed and sanctified.
Jesus loved His Apostles and all of mankind. He led them selflessly and gave His life for all of us. He told His Apostles that they would share in His crucifixion and suffering, as well as in His resurrection and ascension. Jesus gives us the following message; we are all His disciples and we should all adhere to the special message that He gives us.
Our Bible word tells us about the conversation between Peter and Jesus. When we consider this word, it provides a dimension of how Peter failed to understand at first, but later understood. From this, we learn special things about Jesus and the way He led. At the end of Jesus’ ministry, one would imagine that Jesus would have people do things for Him. After all, he had done so much, and nobody would have thought anything bad of that. That was not Jesus, He served until the end. This reflected His love for God and His people. The lesson we can take from this; Jesus was prepared to serve until the end.
Another lesson we learn is that Jesus was prepared to do the work of a slave. Washing the feet was the work of the slaves. Slaves did not have a choice as they were forced to perform this task. Jesus however, willingly washed His disciples’ feet. Jesus was a selfless, humble servant who was prepared to give everything for the salvation of man. Another lesson for us; Jesus had no interest in the hierarchy, or the position held by an individual. He wanted to teach his disciples that their position was not important. Instead, serving the people remained important. Jesus gave other examples of this disposition, one being the shepherd who gave his life for his sheep. If we serve our neighbour, we don’t want to be concerned about what the work requires. Let us remain humble in serving, just as Jesus remained humble while He was on the earth. Be selfless as He was selfless. Jesus said: “What you do unto the least of Mine you do unto Me.”
We were all baptised with water and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we received the sacraments, we became part of Jesus, therefore Jesus should live in us as a portion of Him was given to us. Jesus should be seen in us. He was willing to serve until the end, and if you and I are part of Jesus Christ, we should be able and willing to serve until the end. Let us continue in this manner. We also know that Jesus was prepared to do the work of a slave – the lowest rank in society. A slave received no thanks, honour, glory or a special position in society. Let us do good no matter where we are or how we are treated. Let us do good to those who cannot help themselves. As much as we find ourselves in challenging times, we have a beautiful opportunity to do good. We may not be thanked, but that is not why we do good. We want to serve without considering our position in society. We are part of Jesus, therefore, let us do what we must do. Think of those who need you. Think of those who need the gifts that God has placed in you. The gifts we received were never given for our purpose, but they were given for the purpose of our brothers and sisters.
Today we need to hold onto the nature of Jesus. In Jesus’ time, He also had burdens and he trusted His Father. Let us continue to trust God and continue our journey of life. Remember to love God above all and your neighbour as yourself. Our God will continue to be with us. Amen.