Summary: When Jesus washed his disciple's feet he performed an act of the utmost humility. In doing so he set an example for us to follow.
AIM HIGH BY BENDING LOW
INTRODUCTION: John of all the gospels has the longest account of the Last Supper. We owe him for many of the details of what went on in that upper room. First of which is what we’ll be looking at today as we see a great act of humility performed by our Lord.
1) The disciples’ actions.
• Why didn’t one of the disciples wash feet? (1-5) A typical traveler wore sandals that were basically just soles that were held in place with strips of cloth or leather and tied around the foot, ankle or lower leg leaving much of the foot exposed. The roads were dusty and if it rained they were muddy; not to mention the occasional misstep into one of the “presents” the animals left behind. So you can see why washing feet would not be the most sought-after task. The job of foot washing was typically reserved for the lowest servant. Jesus and the disciples were in a rented room so there was no servant by the door ready to wash their feet. We know that there was a basin and the water to do the task because Jesus used them so the question is why didn’t any of the disciples wash feet? In Luke’s version of the Last Supper we gain some more clarity as to why none of the disciples were willing to step up to the plate. Luke 22:24, “Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” If I’m trying to make my case for being the greatest disciple then surely I’m not going to be thinking about washing your feet. I’m going to come up with 100 reasons why you should be washing my feet. The greatest deterrent to being a humble servant isn’t apathy-I don’t care to; or laziness-I don’t want to; it’s pride-I shouldn’t have to. Certain tasks are beneath me. I’ll do some things but I won’t do just anything. “Let somebody else do it”. Is that our attitude? When we see something that needs to be done is our attitude, “That’s not my job; let somebody else do it”? “There’s a clever young guy named Somebody Else, There’s nothing this guy can’t do. He is busy from morning till way late at night, Just substituting for you. You’re asked to do this or you’re asked to do that And what is your reply? Get Somebody Else to do that job; He’ll do it much better than I. So much to do in this weary old world So much and workers so few, And Somebody Else, all weary and worn, Is still substituting for you.” We might deal with apathy or laziness but our pride will be the biggest thing that will keep us from being willing to be Jesus’ humble servant.
• “No!” (6-11) Peter had an issue with Jesus washing his feet. I think Peter had some understanding that this wasn’t right. Perhaps Peter was speaking out of some conviction. Nonetheless, we see him refusing to allow Jesus to wash his feet. This isn’t the first time Peter resisted Jesus. In Matt. 16 Jesus was explaining to the disciples about his upcoming suffering, death and resurrection. Peter didn’t like what he was hearing so he said, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” Jesus rebuked him and said that he didn’t have in mind the things of God but the things of men. It sounded like Peter didn’t want to see his Lord suffer and die but Jesus’ rebuke indicates that Peter was being selfish. He didn’t like that his image of Jesus as an earthly, warrior king was ruined. The news caused Peter to wonder, ‘what’s this going to mean for me?’ So we see that if Peter didn’t agree with Jesus he offered resistance. What about us? When Jesus asks us to do something we don’t like do we say, ‘no’? When Jesus asks something of us that seems ‘demeaning’ or ‘beneath us’ is our response, ‘never, Lord’? Ironically that statement would be an oxymoron. Could we ever rightfully call him Lord but refuse him? “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Jesus is saying unless you allow me to wash you you won’t be willing to partner with me in performing the work I want you to do. We can’t be humble servants of Jesus and tell him, ‘no’. Jesus wants to wash our feet. He wants to wash off the dirt of pride and selfishness so that we will be willing to wash one another’s feet. Quote, “It’s difficult to stand on a pedestal and wash the feet of those below.”
2) Jesus’ actions.
• Jesus was selfless. Picture the scene: the disciples are arguing about who’s the greatest and Jesus is watching them. Then he gets up and readies himself to perform the task of washing their feet. The disciples aren’t noticing; they’re too busy arguing. Then, Jesus stoops down and takes the first disciple’s foot. The room goes from noisy chaotic bickering to stunned silence. Here they were, all arguing about who was the greatest but they all had the same dirty feet. There was an obvious need and no one rose to meet that need except Jesus. And it was significant that Jesus rose during the meal. He waited until this time so that no one could say, “Oh, yeah, I was going to get to that.” By the time the meal was being served the time for washing feet had passed. Jesus was facing the final hours before his torture and subsequent crucifixion would begin. I believe if it were me I’d be pretty self absorbed and looking to be ministered to. But what do we find Jesus doing? Serving others. He wasn’t focused on his own problems; he wasn’t focused on having his needs met he was focused on meeting the needs of others. “I can’t help you I’ve got my own problems.” We’ve said it, Jesus could’ve said it but he didn’t. And Jesus could’ve demanded any of them to wash his feet but he didn’t. Jesus was selfless. In what ways can we be a selfless, humble servant?