In John 13, Jesus is eating one of His final meals with His disciples before going to the cross and then, in one of the most humble acts of loving service, He gets up from his meal, puts a towel around his waist, gets on his knees and washes His disciples feet! That’s right—He washes feet!
Now maybe that doesn’t sound too bad to you, but consider this: These guys wore sandals all day (my kind of guys) and traveled on dusty, dirty streets traveled by not only people, but animals. There was more than just dirt on their shoes, if you know what I mean...
It was common in that day, when guests would enter a house, that the lowliest servant or slave would get on their knees and wash the guest's dirty, sweaty, "doodoo"-covered feet (and you thought cleaning your bathroom was nasty). And this is what Jesus did! The God who created man out of dirt is now washing dirt (and other stuff) off of man’s feet!
Afterwards Jesus says to His disciples (and to us):
"One another" who?
If you’ve spent any time around the church, then you’ve probably heard people say things like: “Jesus just wants us to ‘love God and love people,’” and this is true. Jesus does love people and He wants us to love them too.
But notice here that Jesus doesn’t tell us as His disciples to wash people’s feet ... He calls us to wash one another’s feet. This is about us, the church, the family of God, and the kind of love that we are to have for one another displayed in our humble service of one another.
Sometimes we get so focused on loving and serving the world, that we miss God’s call for us to really love and serve one another. Jesus reminds us here by example, teaching us about what it looks like to truly humbly serve one another.
Serving can be a dirty job.
Here’s the truth: People's lives are messy.
I don’t know about you, but I’m yet to meet the person who has it all together. Our lives, even as Christians, are not pristine and polished. They’re a myriad of joys and struggles, failures and successes, highs, lows, and everything in between.
If we are going to really serve one another like Jesus, then we should be prepared to enter into the messiness of people’s lives and be willing to get dirty.
Think about this: Jesus could have picked any way He wanted to teach His disciples about what serving one another looks like; but He chose the lowliest, nastiest, dirtiest job as His example to us, as if to say “Do anything! Be willing to take the lowliest position, to be a servant who get on your knees and washes dirty feet!”
Are you willing to get “dirty” for the sake of serving your brothers and sisters? Are you willing to walk with them through a really difficult time? Are you willing to serve them when it costs? When it hurts? When it’s messy? Are you willing to do anything?
No one is too dirty to serve.
It’s really easy for us to judge who we think is worthy of our service. It’s so much easier to serve someone who we know will return the favor or who we believe deserves it?
But think about this: Jesus washes all the disciples' feet—even Judas'! John 13:2 says:
Judas had already made up his mind that he was going to betray Jesus and yet Jesus still washes his feet! Wow. That’s humility—that’s love!
God calls us to this, too. Philippians 2:3 tells us:
It is our pride that causes us to elevate ourselves and look down on others. But in Christ, we realize that we’re all the same: the same sinners in need of the same grace. It’s in Jesus that we realize we aren’t better than anyone else—so we are then free to love and serve everyone else!
You—yes, you—are called to be a foot-washer.
Notice that Jesus instruction to wash one another’s feet is given to ALL the disciples and not just to the “special” disciples or to the lowly ones—because this is about all of us!
Sometimes it can be easy for us to get focused on how other people should be serving us. We critique our brothers and sisters for their service while we ignore our own. But Jesus' invitation is to YOU—for you to be a foot-washer of the church.
So ... how’s that going?
What would it look like for you to “wash feet” in the church today? What’s the lowest, dirtiest job that no one wants? Will you do it?
You see, the humble serve like Jesus. But the proud wait to be served like a god.
The Apostle Paul says it like this in Philippians 2:5-7:
Jesus humbled Himself to serve, and He invites each of us to do the same.
Blessed to serve.
Jesus concludes His lesson to us with these words:
Read that again and let it soak in for a minute.
Jesus says to us: Don’t just know this—do it. There is a blessing from God here for those who don’t just know this truth, but who live it out!
So you are invited, church—to be a dirty-foot-washer, to be a servant, to be humble, to be like Jesus and to be blessed!
Will you accept the invitation?