Bible Reading: John 13:1-17
“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you are right in doing so, for that is who I am. So if I, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet as well. For I gave you [this as] an example, so that you should do [in turn] as I did to you. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” [John 13:13-17 Amplified Bible]
So often we think of discipleship as a method of teaching a subject in the context of a speaker and a class, but for Jesus it was very different. His disciples were never out of class and He taught them by example. Never do we see this more clearly than in the way that He washed His disciple’s feet. Knowing that the time of His death was so close, Jesus specifically wanted His disciples to understand the importance of serving one another.
We read of two occasions in Mark’s Gospel where Jesus had to correct His disciples because of pride. On one occasion they were discussing among themselves which of them was the greatest [Mark 9:33-37], and the second time He had to correct two of His disciples for being over ambitious and wanting a place of honour [Mark 10:35-45]. On both occasions Jesus had to rebuke His disciples, and make it clear that if one wanted to be great they had to become a servant. In today’s Bible reading Jesus demonstrates this.
The Greek noun agape [love] and the verb agapao [to love] occurs only eight times in the first twelve chapters of John’s Gospel, but thirty-one times in chapters thirteen to seventeen. The great emphasis of Jesus in the last five days of His earthly life was love! Jesus’ act of washing His disciple’s feet symbolised the washing away of sins that would shortly take place on the cross.
To wash the feet of a guest in the house of a Jewish family was assigned to a servant. It was a lowly and menial task. For Jesus to take the water and the towel and wash His disciple’s feet was an amazing example of both love and humility. Jesus had to be secure in Himself and His identity [John 13:3], to wash His disciples feet. There was no seeking to gain social advantage, competing with others to appear important or proudly exalting Himself in order to appear great. If we are to humbly serve then we need to be secure in our identity. It is the natural outworking of love to serve one another, and when we are walking with God we will do it without any conscious sense of humility!
Why is our security in our identity in Christ such a key part of being able to effectively and humbly serve others?
What is the greatest lesson that we can learn from Christ’s action of washing His disciple’s feet? How can you live that out in your own life?
It is good to know the truth but what actually brings blessing [John 13:17]?