Jesus knew where he came from, where he was going, and to whom he belonged. As a result, he was exceptionally secure in his identity. As a result, he was also very gracious and humble. He was so humble that he washed his disciples feet, though he was their Lord and Teacher. He even washed Judas’ feet, even though he knew Judas would betray him that night. Now that’s security!
Jesus wished for his disciples to experience the same security he had in relation to his Father. In John 13, we see this point on full display in all its glorious humility. The hour of glory had come for him to be crucified and raised from the dead (See John 12). So, as Jesus moves toward the cross, he displays his secure love for his disciples:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13:1-5; ESV).
Jesus informs his disciples that he desires for them to follow his example and care for one another in the same way (John 13:12-17). After all, they are secure in him. Just think of the beloved disciple who rests in Jesus’ bosom at the Last Supper (John 12:23), just as Jesus rested in his Father’s bosom from all eternity (John 1:18). Moreover, Jesus tells his followers in the Farewell Discourse that immediately follows that he will go and prepare a place for them so that they can be with him forever:
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 13:1-3; ESV).
Jesus wants to instill in his disciples security and confidence: they know that they come from him and will return to him. A good barometer for us to see how secure and humble we are is to ask ourselves how we relate to others. Disagreements, even strong disagreements, are certainly appropriate based on truth and justice, but incivility is often a sign of insecurity and even pride and arrogance. Dr. King was committed to building beloved community and exercised civil disobedience to create it. We on the Right and Left often wish to build the beloved faction, not beloved community, and we use incivility to force it on others.
If we are secure and humble people, we will approach others in an inquisitive spirit, not an inquisitional one. We will ask ourselves, “What am I missing in this debate?” not simply “What do I need to share because they are missing it?” But that takes security and humility. While Jesus knew all things, he still moved forward in a posture of humility and civility, even toward his enemies like Judas who would betray him. Jesus was secure in relation to his Father and offers that same security to all who would follow him.
How might we cultivate a sense of security close to home so that we can approach others in a spirit of humility and civility in our world today?