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.” (John 13:16)
One of the temptations of Jesus after his forty-day fast was a temptation to Pride. Satan told Jesus to let himself fall from the pinnacle of the temple in the presence of the people so that by so doing, God would send Angels to prevent him from falling and people would begin to assume he fell from heaven to the earth.
This temptation is rife among ministers of God today; it is the temptation to think that we are greater than other human beings. It is a temptation to make people believe that, we are closer to God whereas this is not the case. God is close to every human being even those who are not conscious of God’s closeness to them.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus, speaks as though He is just a servant of God. He said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives anyone whom I send receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.” (John 13:20) I once heard a Muslim cleric pointing to this verse as well as other similar verses in the Bible to prove that Jesus is not God. According to the cleric, if Jesus is God, why would He speak as if God has higher authority than Himself. This is an example of quoting the Bible wrongly.
To understand this verse, we must read the entire chapter and see the context in which Jesus made this statement. John 13 is a chapter that tells us how Jesus, when He was at the table, removed his outer garment and wrapped himself with a towel, poured water into a basin, and began to wash his disciples’ feet. Jesus did this not to prove that He is less than the disciples but to show them an example of how they are to conduct themselves with their flock.
In verse 15, Jesus says: “For I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.” Jesus selected his words carefully to convey one message: “Be humble.” Humility goes side by side with service. Paul was once a proud Jewish Rabbi but when He encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus, Paul became very humble, and as soon as he recovered, he became one of the greatest promoters of the Christian faith.
Indeed, God can use anybody. However, like a pencil that must be sharpened in order to write well, we must learn to humble ourselves to become useful instruments in God’s vineyard. Let not your pride become a stumbling block for those who seek to draw close to God.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, instil in me the virtue of humility and service. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 13:13-25, Ps. 89:2-3,21,22,25,27, John 13:16-20).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu