Lent 2021: Serving to Follow Jesus by J. Jioni Palmer
"It was just before the Passover Festival. 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.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
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.”
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!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 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. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
February 24, 2021
Serving to Follow Jesus
In this scripture, God tells us that our faith must be a lived experience. To do this work, we must strip ourselves of pride and arrogance and submit to lowly tasks. Though humbling, it is also empowering because God calls us to be in partnership to dismantle all systems that hinder harmonious relationships with God and the whole of creation.
Regardless of our station and status in life and relationship to others, we are never fully in control of the events and circumstances we encounter. True discipleship in Christ means abandoning haughtiness and humbly embracing service of humanity and all of creation. This passage of scripture teaches us that if we are not able to serve, then we are limited in our capacity to meet the needs of those with whom we are called to be in communion, and are unable to teach them how to teach, preach and heal others. The essence of Christian discipleship is rooted in selflessly serving others the way God selflessly loves us.
John’s account of the “Lord’s Supper” is not focused on the meal, but rather on Jesus washing his disciples’ feet—a symbolic act of humility and a practical example of what it means to worship God. In a sense, Jesus baptizes his disciples anew while empowering them to be teachers in the way he taught. Jesus demonstrates that to follow him requires the sacrifice of position and pride to be in communion with God on earth and in heaven. Jesus’ final act is to give his disciples a new commandment to love each other and all that God has created the way Jesus loved them. Serving and loving others not only fulfills God’s will, but it is also to partner with God to bring about God’s kingdom of justice and mercy.
Prayer: Love one another.
Brother J. Jioni Palmer
The members and friends of Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church
have written their devotions and reflections on the impact of the season of Lent
in their lives. Each testimony in the booklet is a personal reflection of the
We welcome you on this journey with us as we discuss our sacrifices and hope
that some aspect of the scripture, reflections, or prayers will inspire you as you
experience the season.
Read along with us each day or download the book to read along with us offline. May God bless and keep you throughout this season of reflection.