When you consider that God is all-powerful, or omnipotent, what comes to mind?
Maybe it’s the vastness of creation and the immense power we find in nature—an erupting volcano, a pride of lions, or the mass and energy of a star. Considering these things can be humbling let alone the even greater God who formed and holds them all.
Maybe it’s the great miracles of Scripture—the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the astounding healings and provisions throughout, the resurrection of Jesus. All of these go even beyond the normal bounds of nature to exercise and display God’s power in both judgment and salvation in a way that both astounds and amazes us.
Let’s put two together in an example for a moment. Have you ever wondered at the vastness and power of a sea? Of course! I know I have often said “wow” after a deep breath and taking in such a view. What if that sea was split in two towering billows of water to give a nation of newly liberated slaves safe passage from their oppressors? Somehow, “WOW!” falls far short of the awe and wonder of such an act of God.
What would you do if you were all-powerful, if there was no limit to your abilities? How would you use unfathomable strength and influence?
Lord Acton, an English Catholic historian, coined a well know proverbial saying in the late 19th century. See if it rings true when you think of human history, the human condition, and even what you might consider doing with omnipotence:
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority.”
Harsh but fair. Sad but true. Precious few use great power and influence for good. Even with my best intentions, I think that omnipotence in my hands would go sideways and tragic. The bad and the ugly might outweigh the good when it’s all said and done, just like so many of the powerful and influential of the past and present.
But, there was one man named Jesus. He was and is God incarnate. What did being all-powerful look like in His hands? Can I show you something astounding? Yes, beyond the sea and the parting of the sea, and yet—surprisingly—in a small basin of water.
“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…” (John 13:3-5 ESV)
“Jesus knew that the Father had put Him in complete charge of everything, that He came from God and was on His way back to God. So He got up from the supper table, set aside His robe, and put on an apron. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples…” (John 13:3-5 MSG)
This is most likely a familiar passage. It often points to the nature of Christian love and service or servant leadership, and rightly so. But, I want to point out the incredible connection between the all-powerful Christ and how He used all that was in His hands to wash the disciples feet, let alone to be nailed to a cross to cleanse the sinful just hours after this scene.
Isn’t Jesus wonderful? Even with my very best intentions and imagination of wielding all the power, I don’t think I would come up with that idea—something so simple and yet deeply profound—indeed, powerful in the fullest and best sense of the word.
Now that we have seen His power on display here to wash, to love, to serve, to deserve the highest place and yet take the lowest for the sake of others—how could you and I use whatever power and influence we have in that same way?
Maybe this helps us worship Jesus as we do our everyday washing chores.
Maybe this helps us view our leadership roles at the feet of others rather than above them.
Maybe this helps us find room in our budgets and calendars to bless up close and personal.
Maybe this helps us to choose to love as we serve unruly and sinful people.
Maybe this helps us evaluate our effectiveness by those loved rather than ladders climbed.
Maybe this helps us express gratitude to others who remind us of Jesus’ serving power.
The dictionary definition of power is simply “the ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.” How will you and I use our capability today? May the Holy Spirit help whatever power we wield today remind others of Jesus—His servant’s towel and love-scarred hands.