The President of the United States has people who cook and clean for him. He has more important things to do. The Queen of England has hired help to do the menial labors of keeping house and handling the everyday chores around the castle. Her status is too high for her to be doing the dishes. The most important people have people serving them. They would never stoop to actually doing the serving. That’s how the world works.
Jesus came to the world and turned the social expectations upside down. Remember, He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He was present and took part in creation. He is the Son of God. He is Jesus.
In John 13:1-17, Jesus does the unthinkable. He wraps a towel around His waist and does the most menial of jobs. He washes His disciples’ feet. They should have been standing in line to wash His feet. Yet, Jesus grabs the basin and prepares the water and moves from disciple to disciple washing their nasty, stinking, dirty feet.
Why would He do such a lowly job?
After He has washed their feet, Jesus returns to the table and explains what He has just done. He says: “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” (John 13:13-15, NIV) Jesus is setting an example for His followers to emulate. He calls Christians to do as He has done. We are called to serve each other in humility and love.
Notice something very important about this incident. Jesus washes each one of the disciples’ feet. That includes the feet of Judas Iscariot. Jesus bends down and pours water over the dirty feet of the man who in just a few hours would betray Him. Jesus holds Judas’ feet. He cleans them. He dries them. All the while, Jesus knows exactly what Judas is about to do to betray Him. We know this from John 13:11 which states that Jesus knew who was going to betray Him. Jesus serves and blesses His betrayer.
For us, if we are going to follow the example that Jesus has set for us, we must be willing to grab the pitcher, the bowl, and the towel and wash the feet of others. There are many ways that service will be lived out in our lives. We may have the opportunity to help someone when they are going through a difficult time in their lives. We may make a meal for a family who has a family member returning from the hospital. We may help a friend financially who has lost his or her job. We can stoop down to wash the feet of our friends in many different ways.
But, times will come along when we will have the opportunity to bend down and wash the feet of our betrayers, too. And, following Jesus’ example, that is what we must do.
It takes a servant’s heart to wash the feet of our friends. It takes a Christ-like heart to wash the feet of our betrayer. May God grow both hearts in us.