1 Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 Now by the time of supper, the Devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Him. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God. 4 So He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. 5 Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who asked Him, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t understand now, but afterward you will know.” 8 “You will never wash my feet —ever!” Peter said. Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 “One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him. This is why He said, “You are not all clean.”
12 When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His robe, He reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord. This is well said, for I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you. 16 “I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
He wouldn't be with them much longer and there was still so much to teach, so much for them to learn. He was also keenly aware of His position. He was the Son of God. He had authority over everything and He would soon return to God.
Yet in this position of complete authority, ultimate superiority, highest rank and order, He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.
The One who could command angels to His service with a word, the One who commanded earth and skies and oceans to succumb to His command, was lowering Himself to the status of “foot-washer.”
It was outlandish. It was humble. It was holy. So outlandish-yet-holy that Simon Peter at first refused it. Yet upon the revelation that being willing to receive such an act of humility was the only way to enjoy that intimate belonging with Jesus, Peter relented to the degree that he was ready to have his entire body washed.
Jesus responded lovingly, gently, yet clearly. When He was finished He asked if they understood what He was doing, then He answered before they could respond. Declaring that He knew He was their Teacher and Lord, yet He had been willing to wash their feet.
In essence, He was saying, "If I am willing to do this, how much more should you be willing to do this. And now that you know that you should, I will bless you when you do.”
Humility doesn’t come easy. Why would it? Our flesh demands to be seen, known, served. Yet over and over we are told, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Why? Because giving is holy. Being able to give is a reflection of the state of our heart.
Children demand, "Mine!" or "Give me!" or "I want!" or "You can't have it!" But maturity opens its hands so that all that it has can funnel through it. The mature heart has come to realize that everything it has is from God, so everything it has should be willingly offered up at any given time.
A mature heart gives of its talents to the elderly in the nursing home or the children in Sunday School. A mature heart gives of its resources to the church it attends or the kid down the road who needs tuition money for books. A mature heart gives of its time to the young person who needs a mentor or the ministry that needs a volunteer.
It delights in serving. Why? Because it has recognized in its deep relationship with Jesus that it has been served over and over and over again. It has been served by His death. It has been served by His life. It has been served by His provision. It has been served by His people. It has been served by His promises.
Everything you and I have received from Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, has been an act of service, as the ultimate humility.
Philippians 2:5-8 says, "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges: He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross."
If such humility is our example, if such serving is our gift, then how could our hearts offer anything less than the gifts we possess, the gifts that were graciously given to us?
For years I longed for children of my own. None ever came. So when God asked me to serve a friend by throwing her a baby shower it felt outlandish! Yet I knew if He was asking, He would have what was needed to accomplish it. And He did. It was painful, but holy. And He didn't ask me just once, but over and over again. Find a way to serve someone that might even be attached to your greatest place of pain, and you might find that God will meet you in that place in healing ways.