Scripture is replete with seemingly inconsequential details and asides that are easily passed over without much thought. I say that somewhat tongue-in-cheek for there is nothing in the inspired Word of God that is there without a purpose. God doesn’t waste His breath giving us mere filler. However, we don’t always grasp the significance of some words on the first reading—or the second or the third. That is, I suppose, why we can return to the same passages time and again throughout our lifetimes without exhausting their meanings. Take, for instance, these verses in the thirteenth chapter of John’s Gospel:
Jesus, knowing that…He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water in a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet… John 13:3-5
Why did the Holy Spirit choose at this point to tell us that Jesus knew that He had come from God and was going to God? Does knowing that fact change the story at all for us? I believe it does.
Without that brief aside we would still know that Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. We would still understand, as Jesus Himself explained to the disciples, that He had given them and us an example of service to others. What I think we would miss, however, is the very important realization that Jesus served others from the security of knowing where He had come from and where He was going. This is the platform from which we also can serve.
The platform from which the Christian serves both God and man has these two anchors. Consider first the importance of knowing from where you come. As important as your lineage is, it is not all important. Neither is the city of your birth, nor where you spent your childhood. Even your academic or professional credentials pale in comparison to knowing you are here because God planned for you to be here.
I recall the force with which the truth of John 1:12-13 struck me as a young person trying to make sense of who I was and why I was here. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe on His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
The other anchor is knowing to where you are going. Jesus said to His disciples and us, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Interestingly enough He prefaced the remarks about going to prepare a place for us by saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Knowing that there is a destination to which we are headed both steadies our course now and gives us eager anticipation of the future.
In between those two anchors—where we are from and where we are headed—we are free to serve God and our fellow man. At least that’s the way I see it. What do you say?