Bulletin Article for September 17, 2023
One of the most profound and beautiful stories in the Bible is the account of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples in John 13. The event happened just before the Passover meal, where Jesus would ultimately be betrayed by one of His own disciples. As Jesus and His disciples gathered in an upper room, Jesus surprised them by taking on the role of a servant and washing their feet. There are many lessons that can be learned from this account, and they are as relevant today as they were over 2,000 years ago.
Lesson 1: Serving others is never beneath you.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet” (John 13:14). This task was traditionally done by the lowliest of servants, but here we have the Son of God washing feet! We see the creator stooping down to serve the created. If God can do that, who are we to think anyone is beneath us to serve.
Lesson 2: Serving others is never about who they are; it's about who Christ is and how He wants us to follow His example.
When you look at the context of the account it is clear that Judas was there. He does not leave until John 13:30. At the beginning of the chapter Jesus knew Judas had betrayed him, yet he still washed the feet of His betrayer. Who has betrayed you, deceived you, or gossiped about you? Christ is setting the example of how to treat people who mistreat you so that bitterness and resentment don't set in our hearts. It doesn't matter who they are, it matters who Christ is and who he wants us to be. If Jesus can serve Judas, we can serve whoever has wronged us.
Lesson 3: Humility is seen in not only how we serve others, but in how we allow others to serve us.
We see in John 13:6-10 Jesus coming to Simon Peter to wash his feet, but Peter immediately rejects any inclination that Jesus would wash his feet. Jesus tells him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Peter concluded, wanting his whole body washed. Sometimes it is hard to be on the receiving end of service and I think we see this in Peter. He felt unworthy and we can have those same feelings. Another reason we reject others serving us is because it makes us vulnerable. We can easily think that our need to be served means that we don't have what it takes to get the job done. In doing this, we rob others of the blessing of serving because of pride. Just as Peter had to humble himself and let Jesus serve him, we must humble ourselves to allow others to serve us.
Lesson 4: There is always a blessing in serving.
After washing the disciples’ feet in John 13:17, Jesus says “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” We see in verse 17 the promise of being blessed every time we serve. Serving others takes time, patience, sacrifice, humility, and patience yet throughout scripture we are called to serve.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
The blessing might not always be seen, but we know through the words of Jesus that those who serve like Christ will be great in the Kingdom of God. “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).
The story of Jesus washing His disciples' feet teaches us important lessons about humility, compassion, love and obedience to God. We are given the same challenge to serve in Philippians 2:3-5: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interest of others. Having this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” As we strive to follow in the footsteps of Christ, let us remember these lessons and seek to serve and be served by others with humility and grace, just as He did.