Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:1 - 5 (ESV)
Today and tomorrow we are going to step back and look at the events of the last supper. It was during this evening meal that Judas had purposed in his heart to betray Jesus. John tells us that the Devil had put it in Judas’ heart. He had already made up his mind that he was going to betray Jesus and turn Him over to the authorities in exchange for money.
In this passage we see the heart of Judas, but on the contrary we see the sincere heart of Jesus as He prepares to wash the feet of his disciples. At this point He knew Judas’ heart and He does not turn away from washing his feet. He serves His enemy with genuine love. We read, “The devil put it in his heart” and this just goes to show the underhanded plot of the Jewish leaders was satanic. Since we know the end of the story we know that Jesus’ death had to happen as it was planned from the beginning of time; however, it is revealed to us that the means in which it would be done would be through satanic influence.
After the meal Jesus strips down to His loin cloth and wraps a towel around His waist and begins to wash the disciple’s feet. This is a wonderful act of service Jesus does for His closest friends. However, we fail to see how much of a servant Jesus becomes in doing it. A foot washing was a task that was usually reserved for the lowest of servants. Peers and especially teachers of students did not “stoop” to the level of foot washing. It is suggested that some Jews believed that even Jewish slaves should not wash feet; instead this should be a job for gentile servants.
With Jesus taking off His outer clothing He shows that He is becoming the lowest of servants and serving His friends. Jesus did not perform this service to fulfill prophecy, He didn’t do it to gain respect from his disciples, and He did not do this because He wanted something in return. This is a true display of love and service for both His friends and enemies and He wants to show them the significance of being a follower of Jesus.
We can learn much about our conduct as followers of Jesus through His act of service. The overarching theme for this passage is about serving one another in Christ’s love. As we have seen here no task is to be considered below us and we are called to serve one another in love. The body of Christ should seek out ways to serve one another and to serve the community. Service is an action and it requires movement. Serving involves getting up and doing, it’s not about sitting and watching. Maybe this is why so many are reluctant to serve? People enjoy the spectator aspect of Christianity, but we do not always appreciate or value the movement aspect. We are all called to serve faithfully and forever. This includes the youngest of our children to the oldest of adults as they are able. Serving in Jesus’ name should bring such joy and happiness to our lives that we never grow tired of doing it. Sure, there will be times you may not be appreciated or even criticized for your act of service and this is why it is important that we do it for the Lord and not for people. People can be harsh, critical, and downright mean, but if you serve others with the heart of Jesus you will be blessed.
Do you have the heart of a servant? What are some practical steps you can take today to serve someone? Is there anyone the Lord has laid on your heart to bless by serving?
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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