Was the Mother of Jesus a Slave? SSL 304

Dr Candida Moss shares the work of Dr Mitzi J. Smith which brings to light the Greek wording in the gospel of Luke where Mary shares her enslaved identity.

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Reduce Me to Love: Jesus scrubs feet

Servant Leadership!

I’ve snagged another bit of classroom notes from my esteemed professor Dr Tim Valentino.

How about this for leadership studies!
(more on the program here)

It was simply too good to not share. Tim’s blog is here, if you’d like to read more from Tim. (You’ll enjoy that too!)



 Enter Tim:

“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.” (John 13:4-5)


A powerful picture of authentic, servant leadership, which we considered last week.


But why does Jesus do such a humble, menial task? I think we have a hint in Luke’s account of the same event. In Luke 22 we learn that the Twelve come to this dinner arguing about who’s the greatest among them. It’s not the first time they’ve had this quarrel, but they sense that something big is going to happen this weekend, so the debate is re-opened.


“The kingdom of God is going to come,” they reason, “and Jesus is going to be the king. But who’s going to be his co-regent? Who’s going to be his secretary of state?” They argue about it. James and John had their mother weigh in on the matter months ago. Remember Salome? “Lord, grant that my sons will get to sit at your right and left in the kingdom.”


John says, “Hey, why not? I am, after all, the disciple whom Jesus loves.” Peter fumes and says, “Hold on, dude, who do you think Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom to? Me! Remember?” (O.k., that’s a paraphrase, but use your sanctified imagination to re-create the tussle!)


These guys aren’t wearing halos yet, and they’re certainly not ready for the stain-glass window. They fight, they argue, and they pick at each other. They can be carnal and fleshly like anybody else. And here in the upper room there’s real tension. But Jesus doesn’t scold them. He redirects them.


  • You want to be great in my kingdom? Then you have to serve.
  • You want to be first? Then you have to be last.
  • You want to be highest? Then you have to be lowest.
  • You want to be the most? Then you have to be the least.


And while they’re sitting there at that sacred feast, arguing about who’s the greatest, Jesus shows them what true greatness and true leadership look like.


In those days people wore open sandals—much like our flip flops. They didn’t wear socks. Most of the roads were not paved, so they walked on the hot dirt roads under the blazing Mideast sun—roads used by people and animals. Their feet would become hot, sweaty, sore, and covered in mud—maybe even animal dung, too.


Most people in our culture—even with a daily shower and “Fast-Actin’ Tinactin”— have nasty feet. The last thing anybody wants to do is clean somebody else’s. That was even truer in the first century.


At the low, U-shaped table where Jesus’ disciples recline, there are 24 dirty feet pin-wheeling out from the center—each one revealing a self-centered heart. (It’s not just their feet that are soiled.) Jesus takes off his outer garment. Bare-chested now, he wraps himself with a towel, just as a slave would do. And, grabbing the water jug and basin over by the door, God-in-human-flesh kneels down, takes the feet of the men he created, and begins to scrub them. He takes the dirt and dung off the feet of his own creatures.


Some kingdom.


Even Judas gets his feet washed—which is way over the top, don’t you think? If you knew that tonight was your last night, that tomorrow you were going to be executed, and that the guy setting it all up was in your cohort, would you have asked him to come over for dinner tonight? Would you have loved him, fed him, treated him with dignity, and then washed his crummy feet?


It’s hard to put ourselves into that scene. It’s one thing to be kind to our friends, but to be kind to our enemies—now, that’s a whole other level of kindness! How many of us would have poured the water over Judas’ head, and then whacked him in the face with the basin? (Thank God I’m not Jesus!)


But why does Jesus do it? Is Judas ever going to change? Is he ever going to repent? Is he ever going to love God in return? No! So why wash his feet? It’s not going to make a bit of difference. Pragmatically speaking, it’s not going to “work.”


So why do it? Jesus washes Judas’ feet because that’s what God is like.


God is slow to anger, abounding in love. God is patient and kind. God is scandalous in grace. And so is his Son, who has come to reveal the Father. So there in that upper room, Jesus washes the feet of the one who will betray him tonight, and arrange for his murder tomorrow.


It’s as if Jesus is saying, “I’m not scrubbing Judas’ feet for Judas; I’m scrubbing Judas’ feet for my Father. Judas may never appreciate this, but my Father does. Judas may never deserve this, but my Father does. I do this not because it will be successful or get noticed. I do this not because it will be a good investment of my time, energy, and emotions. I do this because God does feet. I do this because I lead by serving. I do this because I lead by loving.”


That’s the kingdom. And that’s our king. Amazing.


What can I do in response to such a scene but pray, “Jesus, reduce me to love.”

Foot Washing (The Maundy Thursday observance)

Maundy Thursday

Today, I’m tossing a lateral pass on writing. My friend, Doug has recreated the Last Supper in a short story form that is both potent, amusing, and contemporary, and thereby worth your read. I think you’ll like his take here:

Jesus bolted from the dinner table – didn’t even say “May I be excused?” – stripped to his boxers and started washing everybody’s feet. Peter made a fuss, of course, but Jesus said, ….

“Maundy” is derived from the Latin word, “Holy” (set apart).
Do you celebrate “Maundy Thursday”…or remember the events of the the night of the Last Supper, or Christ’s action of taking the role of a slave and washing his students’ feet? Reflection on that today, for at least a few minutes.

Read today’s Scripture below:
AND if you’d like share your spiritual reflections here:

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

JOHN 13:1 Now nbefore othe Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that phis hour had come qto depart out of this world to the Father, rhaving loved shis own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  2 During supper, when tthe devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,  3 Jesus, knowing uthat the Father had given all things into his hands, and that vhe had come from God and wwas going back to God,  4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, xtied it around his waist.  5 Then he ypoured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” zJesus answered him, “What I am doing ayou do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” bPeter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, c“If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”  9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”  10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, dexcept for his feet,1but is completely clean. And eyou2 are clean, fbut not every one of you.”  11 gFor he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and hput on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, i“Do you understand what I have done to you?  13 jYou call me kTeacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, lyou also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15 For I have given you an example, mthat you also should do just as I have done to you.  16 Truly, truly, I say to you, na servant3 is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  17 If you know these things, oblessed are you if you do them.  18 pI am not speaking of all of you; I know qwhom I have chosen. Butrthe Scripture will be fulfilled,4 s‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’  19 tI am telling 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, uwhoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”


Lenten Reflection: Freedom

John 8:31-36 (New Living Translation)

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

The season of Lent is especially helpful for calling our cravings (desires and temptations), and sin (missing the mark) into question. When we do not have the mind of God, we sin. We enact a way opposed to God, and his nature. It is sin that enslaves us. We become captive to corrupt desires, deeds, words, and thoughts. Sin is our Master, and we remain in chains.

What ungodly things are your master? The Son has made you free, and you are free indeed. If you remain faithful to God’s teachings, you will not be fooled by sinful things, and held in bondage.

Consider you sin, and your sinfulness. Confess it and Relinquish it. You have been set free! Live in that freedom.

Response Question: What has God freed you from?

1st Day of Lent: Ash What-day?

“Oh…Sure, rub it in…”

Did Jesus get ashed on Ash Wednesday? Um. Nope. Duh…

This day in the Christian calendar has marked the beginning of the season of Lent for way over a thousand years. But, yes, it can be “observed” even if we don’t show the signs of charcoal. But, why bother? It’s pagan, right? It’s not in the Bible, right? It’s just kooky works-righteousness thing, right?

Well, here’s the thing. Let’s think about this. If something is not in the Bible does that mean it’s rendered useless and meaningless from Christian devotional practices? I doubt it. From the beginning God used known culture practices to help his people remember things in a physical/visible way that were connected with the the invisible Reality of him. Have you heard of circumcision? Of (Israelite) cleansing before temple participation? How about Baptism? Well, then you see what I mean.

Do you ever celebrate Christmas or Easter? Then, you’ve enacted what I mean.

Pagan Egypt (used for God’s purposes)
Nationally, Egyptian cultic practices were incorporated with the Israelite’s life of worship of the One True God. The Egyptian priestly practices, in particular, were employed. (Israel was a KINGDOM of priests. Quite an upgrade from slave status, right?)

God wasn’t threatened by the use of Egyptian priestly rites and rituals, the Israelites were familiar with, to help them remember and worship the Living God. On the contrary, God encouraged it. God commanded it. Similar sorts of things can help us today as well.

Still, we mustn’t ever forget–It’s not about the intricacies of the ritual itself, it’s about the condition of one’s heart. We can avoid false religion when we ask ourselves, “Does this practice draw me into relationship with the Living God?” If it does, keep it. If not, scrap it. You might want to read that again. It could be life-changing.

Challenge yourself, by asking God to reveal himself to you, to minister to you, and to awaken you in a new way in the days leading to Easter. What might God want you to look at more closely? What might God wish to make more like him in your life?

This could be very personal, and private, but I encourage you to share what findings you’d like to. It will help all of us journey together through this time of Lent, toward the great joy we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday! (a.k.a. Easter)

Thank you for coming here today! Blessing this holiday season.