Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doingyou do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “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 13:3-16 ESV
The day before the day of his death, Jesus ate supper with his friends. After supper he served by taking the lowest possible place – someone who washed their feet. People wore sandals back then and streets were dirty – feet really needed washing! This was one of the Lord’s last acts before the worst day of his life. What should we see in it?
1) We need to serve. We need to see our example. For I have given you an example…blessed are you if you do… Jesus took the lowest place and so should we. He is our master and we must be like him. That means serving others with some of the most low-down and even dirty help that they need. Those who follow Jesus are to be servants to one another and to the world. We are to alleviate pain, give help, and care in whatever ways we’ve been given. We are to do. We are to serve. But that is not all…
2) We need to be served. Jesus serves his friends and disciples to show them a greater principle – The Son of Man cam to serve. While he washes their feet, which would be very immediately helpful, there is something greater afoot. If I do not wash you, you have no share in me… Jesus came to do something far more than we could ever imitate – He came to live and die in our place. That is the Gospel, that His life and death stand as our righteousness and atonement. Belief in his that washes away all our sins. That is not something we could do on our own. We need to be served.
So as we remember the Story of this great week, remember both to serve in the ways we can. And to be served in what we cannot do for ourselves. That is the Good News.