Incarnation vs. Imitation

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” ~ John 13:4-5

As we began our new series SERVE at Northshore this weekend with “Called to Serve” (John 13:1-17), we talked about the truth that saved people serve people. In John 13, Jesus washes His disciples’ feet. But in reality, as Jesus dons the garb and posture of a servant, He’s pointing to something much larger. He’s pointing to an ultimate cleansing—a soul cleansing—a cleansing from the stench and stain of sin that He’ll accomplish on the cross. The Bible says that the wages and result of our sin is death and separation from God. Out of love, Jesus dies the death we should have died and pays the penalty we should have paid.

As Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, it’s a beautiful portrait of the God who serves, but if we miss what Jesus has done for us to save us from sin and death, we miss the most important thing. Jesus shows us the difference between Incarnation vs. Imitation. In serving people in the name of Jesus, we’re not merely imitating Jesus. Because Jesus has given His life for us…because He’s brought us back from the dead…because He’s put a new heart in us…now He lives in and through us. Now when we serve, we incarnate Jesus. We put flesh and bone on Jesus’ love for people. When we serve, we show the very heart of Jesus to the people we serve. It’s not about imitation. It’s about incarnation.

How is Jesus inviting and calling you to incarnate His love in your world?

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