John 13:1-5; 12-17
1 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. 2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 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.
11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.12 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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
I love how John describes Jesus’ behavior at the end of verse 1, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed the full extent of his love.” This wasn’t just an interaction with the disciples, this was Jesus expressing His love for them. Do we see service as an opportunity to express Christ’s love to others? There are times when it is easy to serve, when the situation or circumstances are a fit, something we want to do, or the timing is good. For Jesus not only was the job unfit, washing dirt stained feet, but the timing was bad. As John wrote down his account of Jesus washing his feet he could have told us this story and left out his comments. Yet John shares with us details which become the most touching truths of the story. He gives us a revelation of Jesus and the heart of the Father, he tells us about the timing and what Jesus knew as he served the disciples.
- “Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father” Verse 1
He knew he was rapidly approaching the end of His life. He knew that the pain and agony of the cross was upon Him. The Question for us is if you knew that you would die a terrible death tomorrow, what would you be focused on today? Where would your focus be? Would it be the dirty feet of others? I think I would be thinking about myself and what I was about to go through. Here we see Jesus facing something we cannot even imagine. He is not saying to the disciples, “Don’t you care about what I’m facing?” He is not focused on himself, instead He is kneeling before them in service, to wash away the dirt of this world that stains their feet, knowing that shortly He will be serving them on the cross to wash away the dirt of this world that stains their hearts.
- “He knew who was going to betray him…” verse 11
As hard as it is to serve others when we know we have to go through our own trials it becomes exceedingly difficult to serve those who will betray us. There is Judas, full of deceit and hypocrisy, about to stab Jesus in the back, and Jesus knows it. What does He do with that information? What would I do with that information? Jesus does not distance himself from Judas but kneels down and loves him to the end. He does everything possible to bring Judas to repentance. Can you wash the feet of your enemies? Will you serve the person you know will not return the kindness?
Here is where serving gets hard, it’s not always what we want to do, and the timing is not always convenient. The ones we serve are not always appreciative, sometimes they are even back stabbing. Yet in order to understand what Jesus was teaching we have to answer the question He asks “Do you understand what I have done for you?” Has the significance of all this soaked in? You see what Jesus did for the disciples went beyond just getting their feet washed, beyond getting their needs meet. Yes Jesus comes into our lives, to love us and meets our needs, to deal with our dirty feet. But that is not where it ends, sometimes we act like that’s all this is about, getting our needs met, getting my feet washed. No, it’s about personal transformation where our very character is changed as Jesus changes our thinking. It’s not about getting something but about becoming something, a servant like Jesus. verse 15 “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” In verse 14 Jesus specifically tells the disciples what the point of his actions are, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”
The Lesson he wants us to learn is simple “…wash one another’s feet.” What does it mean to wash the feet of others? It means you humble yourself, you get down where the need is and you do something about it. It’s a whole lot easier to talk about service, to think about service, to fanaticize about service, and even hear about service, than to actually do service for others. As we grow in our relationship with God there are depths to this relationship that can only be found in the serving others. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. So will we choose selfishness or servanthood? Is there a need you can meet? Is there someone near you who needs their feet washed? Are you willing to open your eyes to the dirty feet around you and as you see them, are you willing to open up your heart to wash them?