Spring breezes gently blew newly formed blossoms in our garden. Dressed in our new Easter outfits we knelt beside the tulip rainbow, the hope realized from bulbs planted deep in the earth during autumn harvest. Our parents captured our life on film, children growing and changing in the garden life.
The wonder of Jesus’ resurrection captured my heart every year, the proof that Jesus is the Savior He claimed. He rose out of the grave defeating death, paving my way to eternal life. I can trust His words, believe He is the only One who holds the keys to life. Crowding into church, my heart beat furiously as we sang, “Because He Lives”. “Because He lives I can face tomorrow; Because He lives all fear is gone; Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living just because He lives.” This truth anchors me.
I had never heard the word Lent until college when friends struggled to decide what they would give up for 40 days before Easter. Pouring over Scripture I studied and prayed, opening my heart to the One who suffered and bled for me. Did my Lord want me to prepare for Easter suffering for His sake? Without an answer I simply worshipped Jesus who died and rose for me.
Almost 30 years later the answer came this week as I read a Scripture that I can recite by memory. Often these verses bridge Passover to the Lord’s Supper, God’s picture of the Lamb’s sacrifice. Connecting it to Lent had never occurred to me.
Times of illumination often come suddenly, without anticipation or expectation.
It’s right there in the book of John. Chapter 13, verses 1-17. The disciples met together in the upper room prepared for Passover. These men who walked with Jesus for three years waited expectantly to celebrate this yearly feast commanded by God. They would remember again the lamb’s blood spread on the doorpost in the shape of a cross. After many conversations and miracles these disciples still didn’t understand that Jesus was the Lamb, the One whose blood would bring eternal life.
Without a word Jesus rose from His place at the table, wrapped a towel around His waist, poured water in a basin, washed the disciples’ feet and dried them with the towel. He served these men even though He was the Almighty God. He kneeled down to wash their feet, humbling Himself.
When He finished He said, “…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)
Jesus showed the disciples how to serve each other. He wanted them to do the most menial of tasks, even washing dirty, dusty feet. The Master wanted them to give up their pride and quietly meet the needs of each other.
The Lamb of God came to give His very life because of amazing grace. He chose to suffer unimaginable pain and humiliation. His plea to me is that I would remember His life, death and resurrection by serving others. My Lord desires for me to empty myself by giving to others in ways that seem even demeaning.
This year I’m celebrating Lent for the first time. It will be a Lent of Service, 40 days of humbling myself beyond my normal limits.
A Lent of Service leading to a Life of Service.
Trembling I will start next Wednesday opening my hands and heart to wash feet. My Lord who showed me how will place before me dirty work. In His love I’m willing to kneel down and serve, not demanding recognition or praise.
My Lord has asked, I’m willing to follow Him.
Copyright© words and photographs by Jane Carole Stein