Humiliated By Service
During supper . . . Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands . . . rose from supper . . . and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:2-5 (ESV)
I have to confess that I’m not a very good servant. Yes, I pastor a church and yes, I’ve been a more-or-less follower of Jesus for almost forty years now, but I still struggle to be an effective servant. I still complain sometimes when I have to go the extra mile, especially when it comes to doing a job someone else is supposed to do.
What started me thinking in this direction is this passage from John. I’m teaching a Bible study on John and, after many months, we finally made it to chapter thirteen. And, as has happened many times before, I’m rereading a very familiar passage, a passage I’ve preached on more than once, when something jumps out and grabs hold of my pride, something I didn’t see before.
Foot washing was a very menial task. People went around barefoot or in sandals, and their feet naturally got muddy and dusty. Guests’ feet were usually washed on arrival at the host’s home—certainly before the meal—by a servant, because people didn’t sit at a table to eat but reclined on the floor. This put their feet at the same level with their head. It was a menial job to say the least, but it was also a necessary job.
However none of the disciples, upon arriving at the place Jesus arranged to have the Passover Feast, was willing to stoop to the lowly job of washing the feet of their companions. They may have been hanging out with each other for three years, but no one was going to volunteer to serve the others.
Finally Jesus, in the middle of the meal, gets up and washes their feet. I get the picture that He’s waited as long as He could for one of the boys to understand the true nature of servanthood, and when they don’t, Jesus takes the opportunity to teach them.
How humiliating! Here’s all the personally chosen disciples of Jesus, all too proud to wash each other’s feet, now having to endure having their feet washed by their teacher and soon to be Savior. How would you feel if Jesus did something for you that you were too proud to do for someone else? Continue Reading