The Pharisees and the Jewish leaders knew the scriptures by heart but could not fathom that the Messiah could come from a humble lineage and that Jesus came to serve rather than rule. Their worlds were turned upside down and they just could not accept that a man who spent his time with sinners was the one sent by God to save the world. (John 3:17)
The Passover was about to start and perhaps, this would be the last meal that Jesus will have with his disciples. But Jesus was not finished yet and wanted to teach one last lesson to his disciples.
so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:4-5
The Ministry of Service
In those days, it was common for a host’s servant to wash the feet of the guests (Luke 7:44). Jesus over here himself gets down on his knees and starts to perform the humble task of washing his disciples feet. Think of it this way, would a pastor come to our house and wash the dishes? Even if it was so, we would not allow it as we have built up an image of what a pastor should be in our minds. Similarly, over here the disciples are taken aback when Jesus started washing their feet.
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”John 13:8
Once again, Peter is showing his over zealousness and Jesus is reprimanding him for that. Sometimes we also don’t let Christ work in our lives. We limit God to what we think he can do for us. We don’t allow him to clean us with his blood.
Foot washing continues as a regular ceremony in some Christian denominations. Others see it as a symbolic teaching about serving one another. We pick and choose what we want to follow from Jesus’ life. Jesus clearly asked us to do the same but we feel foot washing is a symbolic gesture but strongly believe that baptism and communion are to be followed to the letter for eternal salvation. Jesus said, “I have set an example for you to follow”, but we don’t include this humble act as part of our ‘rituals’.
If we can’t clean each other’s feet how are we going to touch a leper who comes to us for prayer or someone with a disease even graver. How are we going to empathize and pray for our fellow believers if we don’t have the will to serve but the will to rule over them.
Jesus set an example for us by leaving his family and wealth and following God’s voice but we do not want to lose our comforts so we outsourced missionary work. Jesus did not come as a king but rather a servant king. He left his throne and came to serve.
Undercover Boss was a reality series in the US where high level executives donned on the role of a floor worker to get to know their employees and their working conditions. Similarly, Jesus left his throne and came and lived among us. But there is one key difference. Jesus already knows us in and out and even knows our circumstances better than us. Then why did he come down?
He came down to live a perfect life and defeat sin once and for all. He set an example of what a perfect life should be like. Yet we choose to only emulate his example in things that are within our comfort zone.
When he entered Jerusalem to a king’s welcome, riding on a donkey, people thought the Messiah had come to overthrow the Roman empire but the King got down on his knees and became the Servant. We are put on this earth to worship and help others worship God. In our over zealousness, much like Peter, we also forget to serve people and want to undertake the things that will lift our name.
Jesus left his throne and came down… the creator of the world came down and washed us of our sins. Can we not get down from our high horse and serve our brethren?