Thursday (May 16): “The one who receives me”
Scripture: John 13:16-20
16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen; it is that the scripture may be fulfilled, `He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I tell you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives any one whom I send receives me; and he who receives me receives him who sent me.”
Meditation: How do you treat those who cause you grief or harm, especially those who are close to you in some way? In his last supper discourse, Jesus addressed the issue of fidelity and disloyalty in relationships. Jesus knew beforehand that one of his own disciples would betray him. Such knowledge could have easily led Jesus to distance himself from such a person and to protect himself from harm’s way. Instead, Jesus expresses his love, affection, and loyalty to those who were his own, even to the one he knew would “stab him in the back” when he got the opportunity. Jesus used a quotation from Psalm 4:9 which describes an act of treachery by one’s closest friend. In the culture of Jesus’ day, to eat bread with someone was a gesture of friendship and trust. Jesus extends such friendship to Judas right at the moment when Judas is conspiring to betray his master. The expression lift his heel against me reinforces the brute nature of this act of violent rejection.
Love and loyalty that endure to the end Jesus loved his disciples to the end and proved his faithfulness to them even to death on the cross. Through his death and resurrection Jesus opened a new way of relationship and friendship with God. Jesus tells his disciples that if they accept him they also accept the Father who sent him. This principle extends to all who belong to Christ and who speak in his name. To accept the Lord’s messenger is to accept Jesus himself. The great honor and the great responsibility a Christian has is to stand in the world for Jesus Christ. As his disciples and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we are called to speak for him and to act on his behalf. Are you ready to stand for Jesus at the cross of humiliation, rejection, opposition, and suffering?
“Eternal God, who are the light of the minds that know you, the joy of the hearts that love you, and the strength of the wills that serve you; grant us so to know you, that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom, in Jesus our Lord.” (Prayer of Saint Augustine)
2 For your steadfast love was established for ever, your faithfulness is firm as the heavens. 3 20 I have found my servant David; with my holy oil I have anointed him; 21 my hand shall always remain with him; my arm also shall strengthen him. 22 The enemy shall not outwit him, the wicked shall not humble him. 23 I will crush his foes before him and strike down those who hate him. 24 My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him; and in my name his horn shall be exalted. 25 I will set his hand on the sea and his right hand on the rivers. 26 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’ 27 I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The Master wants his servants to reach their potential, by Origen, 185-254 A.D.
“The Savior, who is Lord, does something that surpasses all other lords, who have no desire to see their servants rise up to their level. He is such a Son of the Father’s goodness and love that, although he was Lord, he produced servants who could become like him, their Lord, not having the spirit of bondage, which comes from fear, but the spirit of adoption in which they too cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ So then, before becoming like their teacher and lord, they need to have their feet washed because they are still deficient disciples who possess the spirit of bondage to fear. But when they attain the stature of master and lord… then they will be able to imitate their master and wash the disciple’s feet as the teacher. (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 32.120-22)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.