John 13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 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.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned[a] against me.’
19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
Big Idea: We love others because Jesus, our Lord, loved us.
This is the last time that Jesus is together with all of his disciples so he takes this moment to share his most sincere and touching lesson with them. The lesson of loving service.
Jesus knew what Judas was about to do but he took the time, before Judas left, to get down on his hands and knees and wash the feet of the disciples, including his betrayer. An act that made his disciples uncomfortable.
When he reached Peter, Peter refused to permit this menial service. But Christ explained that it was the only way to be made clean. Peter still didn’t realize that what Christ was doing, wasn’t the salvation process, but exemplifying how we should live as people who have already been made clean.
Fortunately for Peter (and for us), Christ explains exactly why he did what he did. Christ said that if we really called him master, teacher, and Lord, then we would do what he does. And if he is willing to get down on his hands and knees and wash someone’s gross feet, then who are we to say that we are better than that? If we really love Jesus, then we will love and serve others, even if it is humiliating in the eyes of the world. Unlike the pharisees, we shouldn’t be hindered by pride.
Application: This passage is full of great applications. The first and most obvious is that humbly serving others is exactly what Christ wants us to do. So much so that he literally got down in the dirt and showed us exactly how to do it. Jesus washed the disciples feet because he loved them, flaws and all. He knew every secret sin, proud thought, and ignorant misunderstanding they had in their heart and he still did it. He knew that Judas was hours away from backstabbing him in the greatest act of betrayer ever. He still served them.
The flip side of this application is that we ought to be open to and allow others the blessing of serving us! There are two varieties of Baptists that have a hard time with this. The first is the kind of Christian who just prefers to do everything themselves. They don’t want to inconvenience others, or maybe they don’t trust them to do it right. But either way, they just prefer to handle things themselves. The second type is the person, like Peter, who doesn’t want Jesus to wash their feet out of insecurity. Peter felt like his feet weren’t worthy to be washed by Jesus. And he was right! But what he didn’t realized was that his filthy feet were the reason that Christ was serving him. Peter’s insecurities and worries about his flaws almost prevented him from having his flaws dealt with by Jesus! Christ wants us to serve each other because of our flaws. Perfect people don’t need anything.
So today, look for opportunities to serve others. And allow others to serve you. Whether you think you’re worth it or not is irrelevant. Because Jesus thinks you are and his opinion is the only one that matters.