In an interesting twist of turns in the Gospels, as Jesus and His disciples are preparing to partake of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus begins to roll up His sleeves, throws a towel around his waist, grabs a bucket & jug of water and begins to wash the disciples feet. If I was Jesus, I would not choose to make my last “act” washing feet… I would do something spectacular like turn more water into wine… we’re at a feast after all. Simon Peter, one of the twelve, not having context for what Jesus was doing, vehemently objected to this but Jesus replied with a simple, “if you do not let me do this, you cannot be a part of my life” (John 13:10), to which Peter changed his tune and asked for a full bath. But that wasn’t the point of Jesus’ unusual demonstration. It had greater significance and this was it:
“Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:12-17 ESV)
Jesus’ final lesson for His disciples before His death was that of being a servant. He didn’t just give them another parable of what makes a good servant, instead He demonstrated this principle by washing the dirty feet of His disciples. Why was feet washing such a pertinent example? In Jewish customs, the host of a dinner would assign a gentile slave who would be responsible for washing the guests feet. Gentile slave because the washing of feet is one of the lowest tasks one could perform and gentiles were considered lower than the Jews. The symbolism of this task echoed the very mission of Jesus as He, “existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to cling to, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant… he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2: 6-8). What then is our posture towards serving? Can we, like Jesus, empty ourselves of all that we think we are and humble ourselves to serve in a way that is sacrificial in order to show the love Christ?
Whatever you do, I encourage you to make serving an active part of your life. Whether you serve your family, your friends, your work, your church, it doesn’t matter who – just serve. Don’t only do the tasks you like, because that is not really serving from the right posture. Serve because we are followers of Christ and we want to become more like Him. Serve, because you want to please your Father in heaven and you want to hear Him say “good and faithful servant”. Serve, because it teaches us how to love those who cannot give anything back to us. Serve, because this is what makes us great. Serve, because this is what makes us blessed.