Scriptures: Ex 12:1-14; Ps 116:1-4, 12-19; 1 Cor 11:23-26; John 13:1-7, 31b-35
Love can drive us to do some crazy things, can’t it? You who are married probably remember the things you did for your spouse when you were dating, when you were young and in love, trying to win their heart. Love makes us do some crazy things.
Most of you know that Lauren and I are engaged. If there was a 10-point scale for how sensitive and emotional and romantic you are, I’d be about a 3. Lauren would be at 15, but I’d be at 3. But boy, when I proposed to her, I pulled out all the stops. I had this little scavenger hunt set up with a couple of her friends that started with a note, handwritten legibly by me, stuffed in her mail slot that told her to put on a dress and just follow the clues to the next couple of spots. That led her to my house, where I had our song playing and roses arranged all pretty, and a big rock to put on her finger. I even made dinner-roasted pork chops and homemade apple dumplings. (Now if you ask her, she’ll tell you that I really undercooked the pork chops, but…) That took every romantic bone in my body. But love drives us to do crazy things.
Love even drives God to do crazy things. Love drove God to set God’s children, the slave-people of Israel, free from Egypt, like we heard in the Old Testament reading. Love drove God to come down to earth as Jesus to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
In the Gospel text I just read for you, love drove Jesus to forget every social custom of his time, in 1st century Palestine. He lowered himself down to the status of a non-Jewish servant, to wash the disciples’ dirty, smelly feet. Social rules said that servants did that, and not just any servants-non-Jewish servants. The lowest people in society. A well-known rabbi who was respected by his followers, someone like Jesus, would never have stooped down to wash their disciples’ feet. That would the height of dishonor.
And this wasn’t just about the feet being dirty and smelly. This is intimate. Think: Who really touches your feet besides yourself? You probably don’t even need a whole hand to count that, right?
Imagine that you’re back in high school. Imagine that one of your teachers starts class by kneeling down in front of each student, including you, taking off your shoes and socks, and washing your feet. How uncomfortable would that be? I was uncomfortable just writing this. Imagine if it was your boss at work, or someone else who has some kind of authority over you.
Those are the barriers that are being crossed here. But love drove Jesus to cross that barrier and show his disciples how much he loved them.
And love drove Jesus to do something even crazier. Love drove Jesus to the cross. You see, there is something broken within all of us, something we can’t fix on our own. We can’t shake off this tendency to hurt others, to hurt ourselves. And God knows that. So God came as Jesus and died on the cross. God loves us so much, that God could not stand to see us wandering around, lost, broken, hurting ourselves and hurting others. So God, in Jesus, went to the cross and died to heal our brokenness and to mend the relationship.
In the story, Jesus commanded us to love each other just as Christ has loved us. So maybe our call this night is to let love drive us to do crazy things. Let love drive you to humility. Let love drive you to sacrifice your self-sufficiency and allow yourself to rely on others. Let love drive you to sacrifice your own ego for someone else’s needs. Let love drive you to fight for others instead of for yourself. Let love drive you to live and love like Jesus.
See, that’s what tonight is all about. Love others how Jesus showed us. In a few minutes, we’re going to come to this table and worship with Jesus and his disciples on that night in Christ was betrayed. Then we’ll hear the story of Jesus’ death, the Passion of Jesus Christ, as the candles are extinguished, one by one. This is a difficult and painful story to hear. But know that this is what love drove Jesus to do. And love may drive you to do something just as crazy, if you follow Jesus’ command.