Small words can pack a big punch.
They have a limited amount of letters but carry a lot of meaning.
Recently I was in a gathering where the Pastor from my church shared a story from John 13:1-5. He got me thinking about a small word. It was near the end of Jesus Life. He knew it. He knew that one of His own, Judas, would betray Him and set off a chain reaction of events culminating with His death. He also knew that all power in heaven and on earth was given to Him and He could stop all of this at any time.
The the story reveals Jesus next move.
…so He 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.
There it is. That small but powerful word. So has a story all its’ own.
Jesus knew the enemy, He knew the assignment, He knew how much power He possessed. He could have ended it all with one small word and never face the betrayal, beatings and death. Instead, He used one small word to begin something.
In a shocking move Jesus bows down and starts washing feet. Washing feet was a custom in Jesus day. The host would have the guests feet washed by a servant out of respect and necessity. Feet got very dirty so washing them was an important custom; but it was considered too lowly for the host to do. A servant was assigned this task.
This is NOT something the King of the universe does. This is NOT something the Leader of this tribe should be doing. And yet there He was…all because of “so”.
The word “so” is intriguingly placed in this narrative to get our attention. Jesus could have done anything, so He chooses to get dirty and do what the lowest position in the house does. It’s one of the clearest pictures of Jesus. Mind blowing humility in the face of great adversity combined with the reality that He could have taken Himself out of the entire situation. He chose to stay. He chose “so”.
So is a cross road.
I am fighting with my spouse, so…
I’m addicted, so…
I don’t know what to do about my job, so…
I’m overwhelmed, so…
I don’t know how make things right with my friend, so…
I don’t know how to make this decision, so…
I have a chronic disease, so…
So is not a fix-it kind of word but rather an invitation. So invites us to get beyond ourselves, even for just a moment. It welcomes the idea of Jesus coming into our point of need. So asks us to allow Jesus to get on bended knee and wash clean the thing that has created the dirt to begin with. So is the beginning of a conversation not the conclusion. Jesus could have just fixed everything, instead He invited HIs disciples into something greater.
Jesus would rather restore us in our present troubles in order to meet with us at our point of need.
Meeting with Jesus is the real point of “so” in this story. Without the “so” dirty feet wouldn’t have gotten washed. The disciples would have simply gone on ignoring them. Without the “so” Jesus the kneeler would never have towered with great self restraint, compassion and humility. Without the “so” there would be no Savior to meet.
Each “so” that comes is an invitation to meet Jesus; to welcome Him in to wash our dirty feet, our anger, our mistakes, our confusion, our doubt, our illness, our anxiety, our wounded souls. Each “so” we acknowledge initiates a conversation between us and Jesus. We look at our dirty feet and He begins to wash them, carefully removing the stains. Cleaning the sores so infection stops. Wiping the heavy dust from the roads traveled. We are embarrassed by our dirt. Our instinct is to not let Him see, let alone wash, but He is compelling, convincing. We know we need His touch.
And tomorrow we will again face another “so”. The conversation continues. So is a small but powerful word.