April 8th 2009

The Paradox of God Becoming Weak

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’  ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.'”
John 13:6-8 (NIV)

On the night before his arrest, Jesus began to wash his disciples’ feet. But Peter was shocked at the idea of this, and refused to let Jesus wash his feet.

Peter must have been thinking that this kind of humility and servitude was not worthy of his Lord! Throughout the centuries since Jesus’ death and resurrection people have reacted the same way. We humans seem to prefer keeping God at arm’s length. Most of us seem to be more comfortable with God’s holiness and power than we are with his humanity and love. The God who suffers with those who suffer, who bends down to serve, whose strength is revealed in weakness, is usually not the kind of God people are looking for. Such vulnerability on the part of God is something that is both wonderfully liberating and terribly threatening.

It is threatening because it unmasks our own weakness and vulnerability. We’d rather act as though there is no lack, no need in our lives, no broken or dark places. So we try to hide our sins because we are threatened by the Judge image of God. But the crucified God shows us a God who is not a threat to us. In Jesus, God was stripped, beaten and bloodied so we could finally see how much God loves us, so that without fear we can come to him as we really are.

Of course, Jesus, the crucified Lamb, is also the Judge of all things. And this is the heart of this wonderful paradox. God, who is perfect and all-powerful, does something so remarkable that it seems too good to be true. As our Judge, he abolished our sins and sets us free. He commutes the death sentence we had coming by taking the penalty upon Himself.

Look at how Jesus responded to Peter’s protest against Jesus’ washing his feet.

“Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!'” (John 13:8b, 9 NIV)

Jesus shares our humanity. Even though he is God, he is also human, one of us. By sharing in our broken human life he redeemed it, and now he wants us to share in his glorious resurrected life.

It does not matter how badly we’ve messed up our lives. Jesus has already taken care of that, and he is reaching out to us to draw us into the very heart of God. Isn’t it time you put your hand in his?

Father, thank you that, through your Son, you have set me free from my sins. Thank you that he shares our humanity and that he has made possible our redemption.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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