Mutual, I’m sure

Everyone wants a label. A title. We want to be called by a name that defines us. That announces us. That lets everyone else know who and what we are. If someone doesn’t have a label, we immediately want to give them one. A singer. A banker. A president. A streetwalker. An addict. A hero. Once given, we are usually disinclined to offer another label unless that person makes a grievous error or heroic effort. Then the original label is nearly impossible to get back.

While being known for one big thing is not an issue, carrying multiple labels tends to be. It’s confusing. Are you one thing or are you the other? Honestly, we can all be, and should all be, more than just one thing.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, 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.

John 13:14-17 (NIV)

Through his teaching, Jesus gave his disciples all sorts of contradictory labels. Be a teacher, but be a student. Be bold, but be humble. Be a leader, but be a servant. Matthew Henry said that duties are mutual; we must both accept help from our brethren, and afford help to our brethren. 

By disrobing, getting down on his knees, and washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus displayed for all of us the example that a man can be both a leader and a servant. His entire ministry, he was leading people to serve. These things are not exclusive, but as Matthew Henry stated, mutually inclusive. All of these things that may seem contradictory are in reality complimentary.

One cannot teach without a willingness to learn. One cannot be bold without truly knowing what it is to be humble. One cannot lead unless they understand how to follow.

We can call Jesus Lord, and that wouldn’t be wrong. Neither would it be incorrect to call him Savior or Son of God. But we cannot stop there. Jesus doesn’t fit under just one label, but many. He is also a servant to mankind. He is a follower of his Father. And because Jesus did, so that we may follow his example, so should we be called by many things, and possibly the greatest of which being servants.

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.

Matthew 20:26 (NIV)

Read: 2 Chronicles 7-9, John 13:1-17

Come to me

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

This passage only serves to emphasise what we discussed yesterday about whispering and shouting.

Jesus whispers. He is gentle and humble. You rarely—if ever—find the humble and gentle hollering at people. Jesus didn’t go around planning to offend people or turn folks away. In fact, His Gospel was (and still is) completely inclusive. All He asks is that we swap our burden for His. That we leave our sin behind and take up the yoke of His grace.

Grace is a heck of a lot lighter than the weight of sin. Who wouldn’t want a lighter load.

The truth is that those who were offended by Jesus were those who enjoyed the burden of sin. They liked the position it afforded them. While grace is lighter, it would mean trading the load they’d grown comfortable carrying. They didn’t want to be taught about humility and gentleness. What they couldn’t see was the ease a life of humility might offer.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

James 4:10 (NKJV)

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind dropping a heavy load, trading it for a lighter one, and then having Someone help me carry that one.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 33-35, Matthew 11