Summary: Jesus modeled the role of a servant for us to continue with one another.
How could the very Son of God stoop to wash the dirty feet of men? What would motivate him toward such an action of humility? Are there any lessons from Christ that we need to apply to the way we approach ministry?
Did those present fully understand what was going on? Jesus Christ, knowing full well the sinful hearts of men, filled with arrogance and pride, still picked up the towel and he served. How do you and I respond to that kind of love?
I. Setting The Scene
One of the many things that I appreciate about our Lord is that he never asks anything of anyone that he is not willing to do himself. His entire life was a demonstration of a life laid down for others and living only for the glory of God.
During those days, washing the feet of guests was a responsibility for a household servant to do when the guests first arrived in a home. But wait, here we see Jesus Christ, God’s Son, approaching his disciples with a towel around his waist and a basin of water. He did what the lowliest slave would do as he washed and dried the mud caked feet of his followers. Those feet filled with dried mud and dust were in fact made clean by God himself! What an example for them and us today!
Although a servant was not present at the time, not one of the disciples came forward to perform this necessary task. You see, up until this time, they were more concerned with more important things like "who would sit where" and their own places of recognition in the kingdom. Sometimes men feel that they are too distinguished to do the humble things; they feel that they are too important to have to do some menial task. JESUS WAS NOT LIKE THEM!
II. What It Meant
Jesus used this simple illustration to get their attention for the days to come. The world would need to see a group of committed followers of Christ who were willing to do anything for the sake of the kingdom. Jesus raised the act from one of menial service to one of great spiritual significance. You see, to be unwashed by Christ is to be unclean, to have no part with him. Notice the radical change in Peter’s response when Jesus explained that this washing was necessary. Peter, upon realizing the necessity of such cleansing for himself said in essence, "wash all of me, Lord!" verse 9.
An example of humble service by Christ, would now be used to pave the way for the future actions of Christ’s followers for thousands of years to come.
The clincher to this point was made very clear by Jesus in the text given to us in verse 15. Jesus stated, "No servant is greater than his master." If you were there that day, what would your response have been? Jesus Christ has empowered each one of us to demonstrate to others on a daily basis that we are serious about this business of servanthood. What will our response be to those whom he places along our path who desparately need to see Christ’s love and compassion demonstrated to them in tangible ways.
Jesus stated in verse 17, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." Now the ball in clearly in "our court." Will we be content with just the knowledge of this truth and further study alone? Will clear points of action follow hearts that have been stirred by his example? Or will the towel and basin become a regular part of our demonstration of our love for God and our love for one another?
"You will be blessed if you do them!"