After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel that was around Him. John 13:1-5
On the last Thursday before His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples a special commandment, a new commandment, as He celebrated His final Passover meal with them. This new commandment was A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34). This command gave the disciples a new standard to measure themselves by – the way they loved others. Jesus went on to say By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Jesus didn’t just share a meal with them that night, He washed their feet, a beautiful display of humility and servant leadership. As they sat and dined together, Jesus rose from the table and began to wash their feet. Peter was uncomfortable with Jesus washing his dirty feet, but Jesus told Peter that unless he let Jesus wash his feet, he couldn’t be a part of His work. Jesus was setting an example for them. He instructed them to wash each other’s feet just as He has washed their feet. He served those who serve Him. This is the lesson of the least shall be the greatest and the greatest shall be the least. And Jesus wasn’t just setting an example, He was telling them to be humble and serve one another. This is how He expected them to treat each other after He left. I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you. Truly, truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:15-17
After He washed their feet, Jesus explained to them that one of them would betray Him soon. They were all in a stir, each one positive that there is nothing that would ever make them betray their Lord. Jesus proceeded to tell them that the one who betrays Him will face serious consequences. They were consumed with trying to figure out which one of them Jesus was talking about. Jesus revealed that it was Judas, whose feet He had just washed in humble service.
Right up to the end of His life Jesus was setting the example of how we are supposed to live our lives and treat others. It is almost as if He was working really hard that last week to get everything done that He needed to before He left. Life is relationships – Brother Van has said it so many times, and Jesus showed us with His life – how we treat others will be more important than any other accomplishment we will ever achieve.
How about you? See, foot washing is not about literally washing feet. It is about serving others – even when we need to serve in the “lowliest” way. It is a sacrificial giving of our self. Foot washing is serving and any serving we do is a way of foot washing. Are you washing feet today? If not, you need to be.
Serving = love and loving others – or not – is how we will be known.
A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. John: 13:34-35
Jesus loved His disciples sacrificially, meeting their deepest needs in a way no one else could, by giving them forgiveness of sins and new life. He loved everyone that way, even His enemies. He commanded His disciples, and us, to love all the way He loved. That means those who we think don’t deserve it, those who are difficult to love, and those who are different than us. He loves us unconditionally, expecting nothing in return, and He expects us to love others that way as well. He gives us a choice we don’t deserve. We have the option of death as the wages of sin, (For the wages of sin is death… Romans 6:23a), or death to our self (sin) and eternal life in Him. (...but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23b) We only deserve death but He loved us enough to gift us eternal life, if we choose to accept it. That is the unconditional love that He loved us with so we would follow His example and love others the way He loved us.