Broken Souls in the Room

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” John 13:1

I once attended a seminar where a speaker shared a story about starfish. In the story, just after the tide rolled out, a young boy realized that the starfish that had washed onto the beach were unable to crawl back to the ocean. Quickly, he ran over and started throwing the critters back to the sea. Soon, an old man approached the boy and asked, “What are you doing? There are so many starfish, and you are so young, you’ll never make a difference.”

Hearing this, the boy picked up a starfish and examined it. After thinking for a moment, he said, “Maybe not sir, but I’ll make a difference for this one.” And with that, he through it into the sea.

Today, on Maundy Thursday, the church commemorates the Last Supper. The story, where the disciples observe the Passover, is one of a last moment of fellowship. It’s a room full of broken souls who will soon be shattered. While all friends when the evening begins, in the coming hours, Judas will betray Jesus, Peter will deny him, his followers will abandon him, the public will persecute him, and the crowds that hailed him will doubt him…and Jesus will be put to death.

And in those last, peaceful moments, Jesus lavishes love on the people around him.

“So Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:4-6

We’ve all betrayed, denied, abandoned, persecuted, and doubted. Chances are, we’ve been betrayed, denied, abandoned, persecuted, and doubted too. The chaos of life often washes us up in places we don’t always want to be. With so much pain in the world, it’s hard to think we could ever make a difference.

When Jesus washes the disciple’s feet, he isn’t changing the world. He isn’t bringing justice to stop betrayal, or bringing truth to block out denial. He isn’t healing abandonment, or saving the persecuted, or bringing faith to the doubtful. He is simply lavishing love on the people around him.

Like the boy with the starfish, Jesus knows that washing feet won’t change the world, but it’s important in the moment; it makes a difference to the broken souls in the room.

None of us can do everything. We can’t singlehandedly stop the chaos or pain that will always be part of life. But we can make a difference by lavishing love on the people around us. We can love our families, our spouses, our parents, our children, our friends, our coworkers, and any other broken souls in the room with us.

“Jesus said, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’” John 13:34-35

Zach Herzog

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