Devotion for the Week...
I've been reading through John's gospel lately and one day last week I read chapter 13. One word really captured my attention in this passage. "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 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 13:3-5).
Do you know what one word I found so interesting? The word 'so'. It's not a big word, but it seems to me to be an important one in this passage. It links verse 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") to the rest of the passage ("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").
Jesus knew who He was. He was confident of His place in the world, of His value and significance. Because of that, He could willingly do tasks usually reserved for servants, even though His status was far, far above that of a servant. He didn't need to preserve His dignity by only doing things He considered to be "worthy of His attention" and He didn't need to show others they were beneath Him by making sure they did the menial work. Instead, He went down on His knees and washed the dusty, dirty feet of his disciples.
Were the disciples maybe looking around at each other, wondering who would give in and do this yucky job? Maybe they were each secretly thinking "I'm certainly not doing that!" I'm pretty sure that would have been my response had I been there and realized no servant was coming to take care of this necessary, but unpleasant, job.
And then Jesus stood up. I doubt He made a show of it. I know He didn't huff and sigh to let everyone know He was doing it but didn't feel He should have to do it. He simply stood up, got ready and did what needed to be done. Why was He able to do it without worrying about how it would make Him look, or what the disciples would think of Him if He humbled Himself in this way? Because He "knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God."
When everyone's feet were clean, "he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them" (John 13: 12-17).
You should do as I have done for you. In this generation, we don't need servants to wash our feet before we have a meal, so we don't literally have to wash each other's feet. But we are expected to serve one another without worrying about our status, our dignity or what people will think of us. How will we be able to do this? When we know that we belong to God, we worry a little less about what people think of us. When we understand that our dignity comes from being created in His image and that our worth has nothing to do with titles or wealth, then we can serve others willingly, no matter what job it is that needs to be done.
The question now is, do we understand God's definition of our worth well enough to be free to serve others as Jesus did?