Suppose there were two men who had been enemies for decades. So deep was their division that when one man entered a room, the other man left. But then suppose one day one of the men showed up at the other man’s doorstep and in his hand was a towel and a basin. Humbly he would ask if he might be allowed to come in for a few moments; and after entering into the man’s home, he would then fill the basin with water and ask for permission to wash his enemy’s feet. Though the man would be shocked at what was happening, he would have to recognize that something significant had taken place in this man’s life. What kind of impact might do you suppose this would have upon their relationship? What kind of impact might do you suppose this would have upon their surrounding community? What kind of impact do you suppose this would have upon the local churches?
There were three words used in Greek literature to describe love. One word is ‘eros’ from which we get the English word – erotic. Eros is a passionate, sensual kind of love. Another word is ‘phileo’ which refers to the kind of love between two good friends. The third word is ‘agape’ which is most often used to describe the love God has for us, as well as the love we are to have for each other. What is agape love? Recently I read that agape love contains two important elements:
Jesus said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mt 16:24) When Jesus humbled Himself to wash His disciples’ feet, He gave to us a perfect illustration of what it means to deny self. The Bible says that after our Lord had washed their feet, He then said to them – John 13:12…Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. Jesus laid it out pretty plainly to His disciples. “If I, your Lord and Master, am willing to deny Myself in order to wash your feet; surely then you should be willing to deny yourself and wash the feet of each other.” A question that you and I need to ask ourselves is – “Whose feet am I willing to wash?”
2) Unconditional Love
We need to ask ourselves – “Whose feet am I willing to wash and under what condition?” To fully appreciate what Christ did that night, we must pause and consider the feet He was washing. Two of the feet belonged to a man named Thomas who struggled with believing. Two of the feet belonged to a man named Simon Peter who swore with an oath that he did not know Jesus. And worst of all, two of the feet belonged to a man called Judas, who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver – the price of a common slave. (see Ex 21:32)
Conditional love says – “I will love you if you do what I want you to do.” Unconditional love simply says – “I love you.” Or to put it in the words of God – “I love you because love is a part of who I am.”