We have seen in our Lenten lessons that the uniqueness of Jesus is not only seen in His claims, but in His character, in His conduct, in His compassion. Now, as we enter HOLY WEEK, we see how His uniqueness is seen in His cross and in His conquest.
To summarize it all:
- Jesus fully embodied in His life everything He had claimed about truth, that is the truth about Himself;
- He fully demonstrated in his death everything He had taught about love;
- He finally manifested in His resurrection everything He had said about His authority and power.
Jesus not only proclaimed the truth, He was the truth, and is the truth (John 14:6). When He was on trial before Pontius Pilate, He said, “For this I was born, for this cause I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth, and everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate asked Him, “What is truth?” (John 18:33-38). How could Pilate have known that THE TRUTH was standing before him, and that Jesus was not on trial? He was!
Only true believers know that the truth is a person. The disciples knew. They had not only heard the truth—they had seen the truth. For three years they had been confronted with the truth, they had encountered the truth, they had lived with the truth, they had witnessed the truth in the life and ministry of Jesus, in His sinless life, in His selfless service, and were now seeing it in His sacrificial suffering. Jesus had always modeled His message in His life, and now the truth of His message was going to be manifested in His death.
Furthermore, the kind of love Jesus had expounded in His message and exemplified in His ministry was about to be exhibited in the manner of His death. He had commanded His men to love one another as He had loved them, His twelve disciples. He had also told them to even love their enemies, and they knew that was not only difficult, it would be impossible unless He was with them, empowering them. He had told them He was going away, and where He was going they could not come. Life without Jesus was unthinkable, and would be unbearable. He had warned them He was going to die, saying “There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Jesus was the most loving man His friends had ever known. He had demonstrated a love that was impartial, indiscriminate, and unconditional. In the upper room, on the eve of His death on the cross, knowing that one among them was going to betray Him, He had assumed the role of a servant, taking a basin of water and a towel, and stooped to wash their feet. Knowing the one about to betray Him was Judas, nevertheless He did not exclude him, but even washed his feet, and then wiped them with the towel with which He had girded Himself. It was an acted-out parable of His incarnation and humiliation, not an ascent but a descent; not claiming a throne but taking a towel; but after washing their feet, returning to His place as Host for the last meal they would share together until that heavenly banquet in the kingdom of heaven.
The towel could have become the badge of our discipleship, for we are called to be servants of our Servant Lord, serving selflessly as Jesus served, loving one another as He commanded us to love to love unconditionally, and to the end. Jesus had told His disciples, “…a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16-17) However, the ugliest symbol in the world was to become the most beautiful symbol of all, the greatest emblem of our discipleship. The Jews despised the cross, for it was a symbol of torture and death, the means of capital punishment throughout the Roman empire. It was a common saying among the Jews, “Cursed is he who hangs upon the tree.” But there He was, Jesus of Nazareth, proclaimed “King of the Jews,” hanging on the accursed cross. Isn’t it amazing how the cross of Christ, a symbol of hate, of suffering and shame, became the greatest symbol of love—a love that could be rejected, scorned, mocked, crucified, and yet remain love!
Truly, THERE IS NO GREATER LOVE THAN THIS! The season of Lent reminds us that God’s perfect love was AN EVENT!