"Our True Worth" - Maundy Tjhursday
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Delivered By
Pr. David Fleener
Delivered On
March 29, 2018 at 7:15 PM
Central Passage
John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Maundy Thursday

Pr. David Fleener

Sermon: Maundy Thursday – March 29, 2018

John 13:1-17; 31b-35


Our Real Worth


            If someone were to ask you, “How do you measure the worth of a person?”, you’d probably have two answers depending on where you were. If you were asked this question by the pastor, in church, you’d probably give an answer like this, “Well, of course we can’t make that judgment ourselves, Pastor. We’re all equally loved by God, right” But if you were having this discussion somewhere else, you might give a different answer. “By what they contribute to society,” perhaps. Or, “By what they do for others.” Or, “By what they’ve accomplished.” Or, “Whether or not they work hard and keep at it.” Now many of these are good character traits. They’re good things to go for. But these are very different measures of human worth than the answer, “We’re all equal in God’s eyes,”, and I suspect, they’re what we really believe about people.


            We make distinctions in the worthiness of persons all the time. And not just to others. We also do this to ourselves. Most generations have had a “Keeping Up with the Joneses” problem – of comparing ourselves negatively to others. My generation’s version of “Keeping Up with the Joneses” plays out on social media. We look at our so-called friends’ carefully curated collections of photos and status updates, showing family vacations, perfect families, selfies taken at just the right angle and altered with Photoshop, and compare those projected images to what we believe about our lives. And often, we find ourselves lacking. We don’t love our neighbors as we love ourselves, because we so often have difficulty loving ourselves. Instead of putting our God-given energies to loving one another, we put them toward comparing and judging. We do this because, so often, we are insecure about our worth.


            Jesus, though, has no questions or qualms about his worth before his Father. No, Jesus knows who he is. He is the fully divine, fully human Christ who has come into the world to enlighten and save it. He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Chosen, who has come to love the people of the world more than they love themselves. He knows where he is going – back to his Father. And because he knows this, he is free to love us. He is free to be our servant. In his divine freedom, Jesus, the Lord of all by right, becomes servant of all by choice.


            And in Jesus’ eyes, all his disciples are worthy of washing. Even the traitor, Judas. Think of how easy it would have been for Jesus to neutralize him. His disciples were armed, as we later read, in the garden. With a wave of his hand, Jesus could have had him dispatched. But Jesus washes his feet. While knowing Judas’ intentions, Jesus shows Judas the same amount of love, the same level of servanthood, that he shows his other disciples. And then, he lets him leave, to carry out the deed he will do.


            Our true worth is never about what we do. Nothing we do can ever make us any more or any less worthy in God’s eyes. Nothing we do can ever make God love us any more or any less. No, our true worth is based on both who we are and whose we are. We are beings created by God in God’s image through, as C.S. Lewis writes, “the same pulsing energy that created the worlds”.[1] That is who we are. And our baptism seals whose we are. God adopts us as his daughters and sons in our baptism. We, fragile creatures, made of sacred dust, have been claimed by our creator, redeemer, and sustainer. Our whole being belongs to God. Because of that truth, we are each worth more than we can possibly imagine. Judas’ feet were worth washing. Peter, the loudmouth disciple, filled with false bravado, also had feet worth washing. Ours are worth washing, too.


            And when we know our worth in God’s eyes, we are freed to serve and love each other as Jesus loves us. No longer do we have to compare ourselves with others. No longer do we have to use each other as a gauge of our self-worth. Jesus’ love makes it possible for us to serve one another – even when it hurts. Jesus’ love makes it possible for us to love one another – even when all we feel is numbness. Because we know from Christ’s example that love is not a feeling. Not primarily. Love is about what we do for each other. It is about how we show we belong to Christ. It about living as the saved people we already are. We love each other, we serve each other, because Jesus first loved and served us.


© 2018, David M. Fleener. Permission granted to copy and adapt original material herein for non-commercial purposes with appropriate credit given.



[1] C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter #21.