Today’s Lectionary Readings: Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Genesis 29:31-35; John 13:1-17
John 13:1-17 (NIV)
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
"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.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 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.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."
Verse 3 is an important verse. Jesus knew who He was, where He was from, where He was going and that God the Father had put all things under His power. You say to yourself, “Of course Jesus knew all of that. What’s the point?” Good question. The answer lies in what follows. In the middle of the meal Jesus gets up and starts to wash dirty and sticky feet.
It was the custom of that time to have the feet of the guests already washed before a meal. But a servant is to do the washing. Far be it that any of these disciples of Jesus would bend so low to take on a lowly servant role, but yet the One who had all things under His power and had come from and was going back to the highest place in the universe, the right hand of God the Father, stooped down to wash His disciples feet.
Usually in the world we don’t see kings, queens, presidents, or CEO’s doing menial tasks. Rarely do we see anyone willingly taking on such a humble task. Doing something like Jesus did would definitely be below their office, yet Jesus took the position of a servant and served His disciples. When I remember that I am a child of the King and that I am heading to heaven where Jesus is waiting for me with a place that He’s been working on for over 2,000 years, I too can be willing to serve others in tasks that others may find common, meaningless and humble.
But there is another important verse that we must not ignore - verse 1. In this verse we catch a glimpse of Jesus’ motivation to do what He did:
"It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love." - John 13:1 NIV
Here is an interesting side note: In John chapters 13-17, John gives us the most information of the night before Jesus was betrayed and Jesus’ last words to His disciples. In these five chapters we see Jesus' emphasis on love. The Greek noun agape (“love”) and the verb agapao (“love”) occur only eight times in chs. 1-12 but 31 times in chs. 13-17. Isn’t it interesting that these five chapters start with the love of Christ?
What’s the point? It was love that motivated Jesus to serve His disciples and to then give His life as a ransom for all the world. The Apostle Paul writes,
"For Christ's love compels us..." 2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV
If you and I are going to live and serve like Jesus, then we need His love in our hearts motivating us to serve others and to not be like Jesus’ disciples wanting to be served.
Pray: Heavenly Father, in this day of people demanding their rights will you fill us with Your Holy Spirit that we may do what is right - to love You and to love others the way Jesus loves them and to serve others by laying down our own lives each and every day!