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The Footwashing King

Written by Patrick Barrett, Executive Director for Spiritual Formation & Missions

The English lord, John Acton, was a brilliant historian. He was a champion for liberty and spent much of his life studying political empires and their leaders. Lord Acton famously described the ancient relationship between people and power by saying, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

A large portion of the Bible is historical narrative, and ruthless leaders appear on page after page of God’s Word. Consider the Egyptian, Persian, Greek, and Roman rulers who oppressed, enslaved, and murdered in order to secure power. The nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, was no exception. Consider even the greatest Hebrew kings like David and Solomon, and you’ll find deeply flawed men.

Now consider Jesus, who taught more about the Kingdom of God than any other subject. He spent countless hours “proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom,” contrasting God’s reign with earthly powers. Jesus fulfilled Zechariah’s stunning prophesy: “Behold, your king is coming to you. Righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey.” The night before Jesus’ death, this humble King would gather his disciples for a meal and deliver a final message about the Kingdom.

John chapter 13 describes this “last supper” and verse 3 says, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands…rose from supper.” Incredibly, John tells us exactly what Jesus was thinking in those final moments. Jesus was thinking, “all authority in heaven and earth is mine.” Imagine – at that very second, there was no star out of his reach and no person beyond his control. So what did Jesus rise from supper to do with his absolute power? John 13:4 says, “He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet.”

Although his death was 24 hours away, Jesus would stoop low to wash 24 dirty feet. John then tells us in verse 14 that Jesus gave his disciples an example to follow: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus established a kingdom of footwashers – a kingdom of servants.

As Easter weekend approaches, I’d like to extend a special invitation for you to participate in The Good Friday Project, a partnership between The First Academy and First Baptist Orlando to serve homeless men, women, and children in our city. Please click here for more information if you’d like to join a footwashing team on Friday, March 30th, or support the shoe drive. New shoe purchases can be made conveniently online here or dropped off at any divisional lobby until March 28th.

I hope you’ll make plans to participate in the shoe drive or join us on March 30th to wash feet!

 

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