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. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 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, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 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. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
(John 13:1-17 ESV)
A spring breeze through the open window made the candles in the upper room flicker. The scent of roasted lamb spiced the air as the men leaned in at the supper table. This was the Passover dinner Jesus had requested. This was a quiet, peaceful moment in what had been a busy, crowd-filled week.
Every detail was perfect. The food, the cup, the spices, the company.
Except for one thing. No servant had been available to wash their feet. It didn’t occur to any of the disciples to do so, anxious as they were for the Passover meal.
Then, unexpectedly, Jesus rose from the table, laid aside his outer garments, wrapped a towel around his waist and started washing the disciples’ feet.
Astonished doesn’t even begin to describe their emotions. Shocked, they watched as one by one, he knelt down, taking dirty foot in clean hand, gently pouring water over it, rinsing the dust of Jerusalem from the feet of those he loved so dearly.
Oh, but Peter spoke up. No surprise in that. “Wash all of me!” he demanded.
Jesus answered in a gentle voice. No, not all of you. Just this. This is all you need.
And follow my example.
Serve others. Simply difficult.
Who to serve? How to serve? What does it mean to serve? At what cost?
If we follow the example of Christ, we’ll take on the most humble, least recognized tasks. We’ll work behind the scenes doing what is essential. We’ll work long hours because that’s what it takes to get the job done. We’ll do the dirtiest jobs so someone else won’t have to.
If we start to look at these unwelcome tasks as opportunities to serve in the name of Christ, our attitude toward those tasks change … and we become a little more like our Master and Teacher.
Is God calling you to an unpleasant, but necessary, task today? Take hold of the task and take hold of the blessings that come with obedience.