“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Jesus spent only three years with his disciples, but he spent the entire time teaching them and preparing them for the role they would play in his absence. He taught them how to pray, how to worship, how to give, how to love. And here, near the end (though the disciples didn’t know that’s where they were), he was teaching them how to serve.
During their last meal together, Jesus took a basin of water and a towel, knelt to the ground and began to wash each of the men’s feet. In ancient Israel, foot washing was common because of the wearing of sandals. The host provided water and a towel, and in ordinary homes, each person was responsible for washing their own feet. In wealthier homes, a slave or servant had that task. But in no case did the host himself ever wash the feet as Jesus did that night.
Predictably, Peter was the one who took exception with what Jesus was doing. “You shall never wash my feet!” Peter exclaimed.
Jesus’ first response has confused some people: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” He’s not telling Peter he can’t follow Jesus, but rather that if Peter doesn’t learn from the Lord’s example, He will never truly be able to follow Him.
Our Lord was acting as a servant, even though He was the master. He was showing us that unless we allow Him to serve us, we can never be able to serve others. And that is the essence of Christian living – service in the Lord’s name. Jesus was an amazing teacher and leader, but his greatest example was the way that He allowed God to use Him to serve those around Him. And our greatest ministry to the word comes when we do the same – allow God to use us to serve those who cross our path.
Today, pray that the Lord will open your heart and mind to know how He wants you to serve others – even if that means that you’ll need to wash their feet.
Reflection copyright © 2016 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.