In John 13, John describes the scene as the earthly life of Jesus was fast coming to an end. He writes: “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” (v. 1).
What did Jesus do?
John continues: “He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet” (v. 5).
When He had finished this humble task, He asked if they understood what He had done. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (13-14).
Did they get it? Do we get it?
In Philippians 2, the Apostle Paul describes Jesus humbling Himself, leaving heaven, where He was on an equality with God, and “taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (v. 7). Jesus so humbled Himself as to “become obedient to death–even death on a cross!” These words of Paul follow implicit instructions: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (v. 5).
I once knew a man who, though he claimed to be a servant of Christ, refused to humble himself and participate in acts of simple service he felt were beneath his dignity. He said, “I did that sort of thing in the Army; I am certainly not going to do them in the church!”
He didn’t get it.
I knew a college administrator, who, when a student vomited during an assembly, quickly secured a mop and cleaned up after her. He did not consider serving in that situation beneath his dignity.
He got it.
How could Jesus, the Teacher and Lord, take the role of a slave and wash His disciples’ feet? John explains: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God” (John 13: 3). My teacher and friend Paul Faulkner puts it this way: “If you know who you are, you can wash feet.”
The happiest people I know are the ones who know who they are and Whose they are, and they know where they are going. Why are they so happy? Jesus said it: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (v. 17).