“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
The completion of Jesus’ mission and time on earth was about to end. He knew he had only a couple of days left with his closest disciples. Upon the shoulders of these twelve (minus Judas) would be the task of world evangelism through the Great Commission. They would have to step up and assume key leadership roles in the church that Jesus said he will build. What kind of leaders will they be?
Jesus wanted to ensure they understood what Godly leadership and ministry was supposed to be.
Up to this point in the Gospel narratives, we observe the disciples still jockeying for positions of importance, and we have watched Jesus remind them that the greatest among them would be a slave (Matthew 20:20-28). They were still having the wrong idea!
The act of washing someone’s feet had significant implications about the status of the people involved. There were cultural expectations about who would wash whose feet and what that indicated about their relationship. Bible commentator Colin G. Kruse elaborates on how foot washing traditionally worked:
“Jesus’ action was unprecedented…Foot washing was normally carried out by a servant, not by those participating in the meal, and certainly not by the one presiding at the meal. According to later Jewish tradition, a Jewish slave would not be asked to wash people’s feet. That task was assigned to a Gentile slave.” — John: An Introduction and Commentary
Through this seemingly simple act, their Lord and Master took on the position of a servant. Luke notes that during the Last Supper, the disciples had been bickering about who was the greatest (Luke 22:24–30). So Jesus did and showed in visible form what was expected of his disciples – to demonstrate love through serving one another.
(1) How much do we understand what it truly means to serve one another out of love and devotion to Christ?
(2) Do you feel embarrassed when your brother and sister in Christ humbles themselves to serve you, like Peter did?
(3) How ready are you to “wash your brother’s/sister’s feet?”
Pray that the people of God will reflect the heart of God through their actions and not just their words. Pray many hearts will be touched by Christ’s love as we truly serve each other. Amen.