“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: 13:12-17

God’s encouragement…

Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Why would Jesus, their Teacher and their Lord, do this? Peter was completely taken aback by it stating that he would never allow Jesus to do this to him (John 13:8). Jesus then told Peter that if he didn’t allow it, Peter would have no share with Him. Like Peter, the purpose behind this act of servanthood wasn’t clear to me because it was so different from the many miracles He performed. Jesus gives so much to us and, as a result, we tend to focus on that.

To teach servanthood, Jesus used simple things. A basin of water, a towel tied around His waist, and His place on the floor. He chose the last night He would be with His disciples. Later this night, He would be arrested. His trial, crucifixion—and resurrection— would follow. Jesus foreknew the great commission that was to be given to them. Using this menial task, He equipped them to demonstrate to the world He is the long awaited Savior. Jesus knew that acts of servanthood would give power to their eyewitness testimony of His ministry. They would demonstrate God’s love for the world, given through His Son.

Serving others for the purpose of sharing God’s love is contrary to the way of the world. In the world, we expect to be acknowledged for what we do and recognized for what we give. In God’s kingdom—following the example of Jesus—we point to God, not ourselves. We engage in acts of service in His name to demonstrate His love for the world. In God’s kingdom, no act of service is menial.

Because of Jesus, I see servanthood differently now, not as help I give, but as love I share. Sometimes the “washing” we do in service is literal. Sometimes it is symbolic—holding a door open, smiling and saying hello, offering a refreshing beverage and listening quietly, without interruption or judgment. Sometimes it is pitching in to help without being asked, or offering our resources with no expectation of recognition or repayment. All to the glory of God! Jesus is indeed the very best Teacher.

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Image: original pencil drawing “Sharing God’s Love” by Robin Lybeck

To God alone be all the glory!