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With Jesus in the Upper Room

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Often a person’s last words before dying are words of great importance. With death near, a father passes on to his family the most important things he wants them to remember about life. A grandmother blesses her family and makes sure they know she loves them with all her heart.

Jesus gathered his closest disciples in an upper room to celebrate Passover the night before He was crucified. In the Gospel of John, chapters 13 through 17, we get to sit in on Jesus’ final teachings to them—and to us. He spoke to them about a place prepared for them in heaven. He promised His Holy Spirit would come to them and lead them into all truth. He told them they are branches that can only bear fruit by remaining in the Vine (in Himself). He told them the world would hate them on account of Him, and the most powerful way the world will know they are His disciples is by their love for one another.

And He washed their feet.

Jesus took a towel and basin and performed the servant’s duty. Travelers who walked most everywhere they went got their feet dirty. It was customary for the servant in a house to wash the guest’s feet when they enter the house or begin a meal. This hospitality custom is sort of like taking off one’s shoes and putting on slippers when entering a Japanese home.

Jesus, the Master, did the servant’s work for His disciples. He humbled Himself for them. He demonstrated His self-giving love for them. In fact, John sets up the whole story in his Gospel with these words: “Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1 NIV)

He loved them to the end.

He loved them to the end of His life. He loved them to the end of the outpouring of His love and grace for them. He loved them to the end of their lives, which is just the beginning of loving them for eternity.

And He loves us to the end.

When one is loved like Jesus loves us, sacrificing everything to redeem us, one is free to love others like we have been loved. When Jesus washed their feet, He told them, “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.” (John 13:14-15 NIV)

Jesus calls us to live a servant life. See a need and meet it. Notice a hurting person and help them. Empty ourselves for others. And the driving force for this servant life is love. Love from Jesus motivates our lives. And love for Jesus translates into love for others. At least it should, if we are living as disciples of the One who washed feet and went to a Cross.

With Jesus in the upper room, we learn the deepest truths of our faith. Christianity is not about rules and duty. It is about love and serving and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit making us like Jesus. Let’s take up the towel and basin and serve like our Master.

Posted by Mike Dominick with

What is Truth?

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We live in a time of instant information. If something puzzles us or we want to know most any information, we only have to Google it or ask Siri.

However, we also live in a time of fake news. As the meme with a quote about the Internet attributed to Abraham Lincoln points out—not everything we read on the Internet is true.

We live in a time of personalized truth. Much of our culture no longer believes in universal truth. The mantra is: “If you believe it’s true and it works for you, fine. But my truth works for me and you have no right to question it.” This is particularly true in terms of religious truth. Many believe all religions are equally true for those who believe and practice them.

But what happens when we are confronted with truth that contradicts the things we always believed in? If the new truth is true, the old truth must give way. In our thinking and understanding, we can grow to accept truth that replaces long-held beliefs.

For example, many of us grew up believing “God helps those who help themselves.” We might have even believed it is from the Bible. It isn’t. It’s a quote from Poor Richard’s Almanac. When one studies the Bible, one finds that God acted to redeem us because we cannot help ourselves. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV) It’s called grace. And grace is a Biblical truth that trumps the self-reliance paradigm of our culture.

In some ways, this is a natural part of growing up. I no longer believe in the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. I have come to understand them to be games grownups play with children.

I have also grown to understand my faith in Jesus Christ at a different level than Vacation Bible School. The world and my faith are both more complicated than “Jesus loves you and wants you to be a good boy or girl.”

Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who condemned Jesus to death by crucifixion, was in a tough spot. It was generally politically expedient to cooperate with the Jewish ruling council as long as it did not violate Roman law. But when they brought Jesus to him, Pilate quickly saw through their charges and realized they were not legally worthy of execution.

As Pilate interrogated Jesus, at one point Jesus said, “The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.” Pilate responded with a question we might well ask today: “What is truth?”

The embodiment of Truth was standing in front of Pilate, and his Roman belief system of cultural and religious truth could not see the Truth or accept it. And so Pilate condemned the Son of God to execution.

What is truth?

Jesus is Truth. He told His disciples in the Upper Room on the night He washed their feet and gave them the Last Supper: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) Jesus does not just teach truth. Jesus embodies truth. Jesus is Truth in flesh-and-blood.

Truth that is a solid foundation on which to build a life is found in Jesus Christ. And the rock solid source of the truth about Jesus is the Word of God, the Bible. I am convinced the pursuit of truth involves a life-long pursuit of a relationship with Jesus and a life-long study of Scripture.

What is truth? Truth is found in the God of the Bible and in the life, teachings, death and resurrection of His Son. I’m building my life on this truth. How about you?

Posted by Mike Dominick with

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