Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas,son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:1-5)
Service is what we’ve been called to do. But how are we meant to serve? If there is anyone who showed us a perfect example of how this is done, it is Jesus.
We all know that Jesus washed His disciples feet and we often refer to this act as a sign of humility; which it is. However there are other lessons we can draw from this.
The chapter begins by highlighting two things;
- Jesus knew that it was almost time for Him to leave this world. During this time, Jesus was fully human. So i would like to believe that this wasn’t the best thing to remember because a deep level of pain was going to be associated with this event. Despite the fact that He was fully aware of this, He still carried on serving. He proved that pain isn’t enough reason not to serve or to quit serving. In the midst of this painful thought, He showed us the best example of how a true servant serves
- “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.” Jesus knew who He was. He knew that God has given Him authority over everything. He knew that He is a part of the Godhead. Despite these, He never allowed pride to come into Him.
Neither pain nor pride prevented Him from stooping low to serve.
Let’s see how He carried out this task.
“So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin.” (John 13:4).
Notice what He did? Right let me explain.
“So he got up from the table” – He got up. He got up from His comfort zone. He left food and what feeds His flesh. He left the pleasure of life. He left what we would call enjoyment. He left a feast. Just to serve.
This implies that for us to be able to serve effectively, we have to get up from our comfort zone. We can’t be bossing everyone around. This isn’t the time to be asking James and John to do it. This is the time for us to be alive and active. Some of us are so laid back and relaxed. We need to get up from our comfort zone in order to serve effectively. After Jesus got up, what did He do next?
He “took off his robe” – In order for Him to do the task at hand, Jesus knew that a robe would be a distraction to Him. If He had kept it on, He would have spent more of His time trying to make sure the robe wasn’t in His way, and that the robe wasn’t getting wet. He would have been focusing more on Himself than the task. So He took it off. Some of us need to take off the things that we do not need for our journey. We can’t serve well when we have the robe of bitterness, unforgiveness, doubt, guilt, jealousy, envy, pride, carelessness, procrastination on. Or maybe like Jesus your robe is a clean one but it might not be needed for this task. This brings the story of David to mind. When he wanted to go fight Goliath, Saul gave Him all the things/tools he needed to war. However, these were pulling him back and if he had kept them on, they would have distracted him from focusing on the fight. Someone needs to do a heart check on what s/he needs to drop. After taking off His robe,
Jesus “wrapped a towel around his waist”. When He was done removing the distractions, Jesus picked up the tool He needed; He wrapped a towel around His waist. He was fully prepared. He made sure He had everything He needed. Interestingly He didn’t go on a hunt for the towel. It was already there. This goes to show that we already have everything we need to serve. The necessary tools needed are all within our reach. Like God said to Moses, “what is that in your hand?”. That thing you have with you is all you need. That idea, that talent, that skill is all you need to serve others. God didn’t bless us with those gifts for our consumption only. He gave us so we could use them to bless others. Jesus wrapped his tool around His waist. This isn’t the time to be disorganised. Get yourself together and reach out to that neighbour of yours who needs comfort. Stop saying “i don’t know what to do”. Begin by making a phone call to that person. Begin by visiting. Begin by sending a text message just to comfort or encourage that sister. Begin by making some food for that elderly lady. Begin by helping that new mum with groceries. Begin by taking some cooked food to that widow. You can do something. Get up and start acting. So, Jesus tied His towel round His waist and then;
He poured water into a basin. – He had a basin of water. I would like to see the basin as our heart. The water i would say represents the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. we need these to be poured into our heart for us to be able to serve. Just having the skill, gift or idea isn’t enough. Without the fruits of the spirit, we will give up easily and it will be a struggle. An acceptable service unto God cannot be done solely on our own ability. We need the Holy Spirit to continue to fill, empower and guide us.
We have been saved to serve others. As we do this, people will know that we are true disciples of Jesus.