Monday, March 30, 2009
Beginning last Thursday, we had a conference at our church and Ted Donnelly, a Reformed Presbyterian pastor from Ireland, was the speaker. I was so blessed by his insights and teaching as he preached from the book of John. My favorite session was on Friday night, when Pastor Donnelly preached from John 13, verses 1-17: Jesus washing his disciples' feet. His message was for the unbeliever as well as the Christian.
Pastor Donnelly told a story about a very refined and respectable gentlemen who, toward the end of his life, became unable to care for himself; unable even to do basic things for himself, like bathing. This man had a great internal struggle as his daughter-in-law cared for him and bathed him in his helplessness. He spoke about how we, before God, are in the same position as this old man. We see that we are dirty, but we can't do anything about it. It's often a great struggle to admit this and accept the spiritual 'washing' of Jesus: salvation. We feel unworthy and wish we could clean ourselves up and dress and then present ourselves to Jesus, but it cannot be done. But, instead of our dirtiness and nakedness disgusting Jesus, it inspires his great love and compassion toward us.
In John 13, Jesus, the pure and holy Son of God, humbled himself to perform a socially degrading task. He did this for the sinful disciples, who had recently argued among themselves about who would be the greatest in Jesus' coming kingdom. These men were not worthy, yet Jesus insisted on washing them to model the humble servanthood they were to pursue (vv 14, 15). Pastor Donnelly's application was to ask if we regularly "put ourselves out" for the sake of others' blessing. He asked, "Do you have a towel around your waist?" I loved this reminder that I need to serve others because I have been washed by Jesus. Pastor Donnelly said, "The 'you should do' is founded on the 'I have done.' I want to grasp more fully the washing I have received so I can truly 'wash others' feet' from my own joy at being washed.
If you would like to hear this message and the others that were preached at the conference, you can download them soon here.