Verse of the Day Devotion: John 13:14
“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” – John 13:14
While Jesus and the disciples were in the upper room just prior to His arrest, Jesus did something that totally surprised the disciples. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:5. This was startling to them because Jesus, the Son of God, wanted to wash their feet.
First, washing of the feet was a normal practice in those days because sandals where the standard foot apparel and washing of the feet was normally the first thing done after a journey once they entered the home. In the case of the average person, the owner would provide a bowl with water and the guests would wash their own feet. However, in the home of the affluent in society, the guest’s feet were washed by a slave of the homeowner. This was normally the role of the lowliest of slaves for this was the most menial of tasks.
In our eyes, it would have been normal for Jesus’ feet to have been washed by one of them. However, this would not have taught the lesson He wanted them to know. Two of the things He wanted them to learn was servanthood and humility. Jesus was showing them they need to desire to serve, not to be served. Paul understood this and wrote to the Philippians the following. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:3-8. Note that this was the attitude of Christ.
Another lesson concerning servanthood is stated in chapter 20 of Matthew. There was a dispute by the disciples because the mother of James and John wanted her sons to have an exalted place in Jesus’ kingdom. “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28. He essentially said that what she was asking was the world’s way, but not the way of the kingdom.
Jesus gave Himself up for us because of His great love. The second person of the trinity, the son of the Almighty God, came to serve and not be served. We see this in His washing of the disciple’s feet as well as His statement to the sons of Zebedee’s mother and His willingness to die for the sins of mankind, His greatest service while here on earth. He was telling them that if He came to serve, and they are to be like Him, then they were to humble themselves and serve, not argue about who was the greatest disciple. And we are to do the same as children of God.
John puts it this way. “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:6. We are called to walk in the same way He did, in humility and servanthood. We should be willing to lower ourselves to lift up another. We should be willing to do anything that helps to further the cause of Christ. And again as Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Philippians 2:3. We must not see anyone as lower than us, but we must be willing to help all. This is what Jesus did, and this is what He showed by washing their feet.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.