In John 13 we see the familiar story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. It was common for a slave to wash the feet of the guests of their master because the roads we dusty and people wore sandals. Their feet were dirty and this practice normally took place prior to the meal. In this case, the washing was done by Jesus during the meal.
Why would Jesus, wash the feet of his disciples? A couple of things hit me as I read this and the first is found in verse three which says,
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
Jesus knew that his betrayal was at hand and that he would return to the Father and be restored to him with all glory. Instead of losing interest in the present and even be exalted in pride at his destiny, he humbled himself to wash the feet of his men.
What was he trying to show them? The answer is found in verses 14-16 which say,
“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.”
Jesus says that he was leaving them an example. He expects them to live with the same humility he showed by this act of washing. He was the Messiah, the Son of God and he served them. Greatness is found in service and not self-centered promotion.
Why would that be something Jesus wanted them to understand at this critical time? The time right before he is betrayed? I think the answer may be found in Luke 22:24 where Luke tells us of something that came up during this meal. Notice what it says,
“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”
Jesus, the great teacher, had not stopped teaching his disciples. It was critical for them to learn about greatness and humility. The greatest among them will be the one who serves and does not seek a position.
Father, thank you for the practical and timely teaching of Jesus. He is always ready to show the way for his disciples. Thank you that you are a God who is humble. May you help me tp be humble so that I can better reflect your character to others. May I also not loose sight of true greatness in your eyes.
Following Jesus with you,