What impresses me about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17)? Perhaps, the question should be what does not impress me about it. Jesus the Son of God humbles himself before mankind to wash their feet. Not because He had to do it. Instead, because He wanted to demonstrate that our position in Christ should not be greater than the position of our heart towards our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Having read this passage many times before it did not have the same impact as it does today. This time I could feel my eyes watering as I thought of how Jesus knew that he would be betrayed, but he still chose to wash the feet of Judas Iscariot. How many of us today would wash the feet of someone who we know would betray us? Yet, this is the type of servanthood Jesus the Son of Almighty God demonstrated to the disciples. When a person treats someone well even while the individual is maliciously doing things to harm them is a metaphor for someone washing their feet. This individual could choose to return evil for evil but instead, they treat the individual in the same manner they would treat a close friend.
John 13:10, ESV Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.”
Why is Servanthood so Hard?
What servanthood comes down to is setting aside one’s emotions about self for the benefit of others. It is hard because in our flesh an individual’s human nature wants to gravitate towards self-preservation or self. Rather than entrusting that individual to God so a person can let go, forgive and be open to trusting others. We see that in Judas Iscariot. Jesus said that all but one was clean (John 13:10). Jesus knew that Judas had already been prompted by Satan to betray him.
If we are to determine why it is difficult to become a servant leader we must come to the conclusion that the first place we fail short is when we allow the enemy an open door into our mind. Judas Iscariot was indeed called by Jesus but he never referred to Jesus as Lord but only as a teacher. He never acknowledged the sovereignty of Jesus as Lord over his life. Individuals who say they believe in God but do not recognize him or acknowledge him as Lord over everything find it difficult to let go of themselves and their selfish desires and ambitions to trust God enough to be able to serve others. An individual who has never really cultivated a relationship with Jesus will find it hard to serve as Jesus served. As was the case with Judas Iscariot. He had the Son of God right in front of him yet he did not believe him to be anything more than just a teacher.
The Character of Jesus as a Servant Leader
When I ponder Isaiah 53:I Jesus outwardly looked like you or I an average person. Nothing in his appearance would have shouted out I am the Son of God. We can see a Jesus who was long-suffering, We can see a Jesus who knew what it felt like to have pain, be despised, rejected, and held in low esteem. Yet despite being crushed on all sides He still chose to lay down his life for us. We see a Jesus who did not react even in the face of oppression and affliction as he was being taken to the cross. When no one spoke up for him he remained quiet. Yet we see that for His suffering he was resurrected not for himself but that so others might be saved by his intercession.
Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Washing of the Feet
Some have washed my feet on numerous occasions, and I have washed the feet of others. It is quite a humbling experience. The last time my feet were washed by someone the individual revealed that at first, they did not care for washing my feet. Furthermore, the individual mentioned that the Lord He revealed to them that they needed to learn from me. After the feet washing, we became very close and still, today have a special bond. When I look at this symbolically I see that Jesus mentioned that not all were clean but He still served them equally by washing all of their feet. There will be times as a servant leader when someone may be like Judas Iscariot but as servant leaders, we should do what Jesus did and serve them equally. We may not always have an opportunity to wash someone’s feet as in this passage of scripture but other things are comparatively the same. For example, a person may be able to serve those they lead by ordering lunch for them. Instead of having individuals serve themselves lunch, a servant leader can serve each person on the team lunch. It is not a washing of the feet but it is the same premise of letting those you lead know that you are not above them nor do you favor one person over another but that you care for them equally.
(Isaiah 53. (n.d.). In Biblegateway.com. Retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%204&version=MSG;NIV
(John 13:1-17. (n.d.). In Biblegateway.com. Retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%204&version=MSG;NIV
Questions to Ponder: 1. Ask yourself is Jesus Christ Lord over every part of your life or do you just recognize him as teacher? 2. How do you serve even your enemies or those that persecute you? Would you wash their feet like Jesus? 3. What areas of your life can you surrender today to God to be able to serve others like Jesus?
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