In this passage from John 13:1-17, we see a profound demonstration of Jesus’ servant heart. This scene takes place during Jesus’ last meal with the disciples. It’s Thursday evening of Holy Week, just hours before his crucifixion the following day. As the story unfolds, Jesus washes the disciple’s feet. It’s moving and touching to us today, but in first-century Palestine it was, shocking, radical, and scandalous.
The story shows us three characteristics at the very heart of Jesus:
- The Humbling Servant: Jesus knows that the Father has given all things into His hands, and that he’s the greatest person in the room. But what does he do? He takes off his garments, wraps a towel around his waist, and washes feet. He willingly, voluntarily, and humbly takes on the role of the lowliest slave. The humility demonstrated by Jesus is humbling for us.
- The Cleansing Redeemer: There are dimensions to this foot washing that Peter can’t accept. So, Jesus shifts his response to Peter from physical cleansing to spiritual cleansing. Jesus is making this point: we don’t just need physical cleansing, we need spiritual cleansing.
- The Transforming Example: Jesus is calling us to be like Him. To become humble servants. To become slaves of all. To clean refuse off the feet of the undeserving. To pursue the unlovely. To love our enemies. To lay down our lives in loving service, humble sacrifice, and selflessness care. But how are we supposed to do this? We must give up our pride, and realize that served people serve people.
- If you’re searching for Jesus, you’ll find Him at your feet.
- All will kneel before Jesus, because Jesus knelt before all.
- We serve because He first served us.
Jesus’ love is teaching us how to kneel. We love because He first loved us; we forgive because He forgave us; we serve because He served us.