The crowds must have been overwhelming. Granted, it was a really big city full of people and commerce and institutions. But there was something different in the air this time, compared to all the other times they entered a new town to preach. This one had more barriers than just thick brick walls.
I wonder if the disciples could sense it but not quite put words to it; this building tension, this brewing storm. It was the glorious City of Zion after all, and they were greeted with a procession and songs of praise. Only to walk right into a hornets nest of contradictions. This first day wasn’t a day for signs and wonders, it was a day to overturn tables and grieve the reality of distant hearts.
Each time He taught in the temple in Jerusalem, a strange mix of people would gather. There were ones who were broken and came to be filled with encouragement and healing and then there were ones who came to mock and question, even if only in the silence of their mind.
Cynicism was rampant. Religion had built walls. And how do you minister to that?
“So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him.” John 13:4-5
Its easy to love the broken. The ones with visible scars or injuries. It’s a clear mission when you reach out to someone sick or blatantly sinning. You can bring meals, fill the prescriptions. You can even drive them to therapy or detox.
But how do you love the cynic? The one who doubts love’s intentions?
It wasn’t the cheating tax collectors who shouted to Pilate for Jesus’ crucifixion. It wasn’t the prostitute, the thief or even the murderers.
It was the religious leaders and their hardened hearts of prideful doubt.
The murderers and adulterers knew they needed redemption. The religious ones were lost inside their own skulls, clueless to the outpouring of love happening right in front of them.
Oh how I have been guilty, doubting the Love laid out in front of me. I have wrestled with life not unfolding the way I expected it to only to discover that the master plan in it all was far more valuable than I imagined. I have grappled with understanding only to find it never fit in my box anyway. I have been more than guilty of building walls around what I thought I understood keeping out what I needed most.
I have been a cynic, doubting God’s miraculous intentions with my own calloused heart of doubt, fear and pride.
Yet, even in my desperate wanderings He came. Even in all of His glory He bent low to wash my feet of meandering dust.
He has battled cynicism with love; selfless, steadfast, love. He poured it out over them, so they could pour it out over us. One act of love multiplied over countless lifetimes is like palm branches lining the streets, welcoming back our Messiah.
So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in the same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others. John 13:34-35