“When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me. Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” – John 13: 6-9.
There is so much that is unique and radically different about Jesus Christ. He was unique, first of all, because of who He was: God in human flesh. Throughout history tyrants and megalomaniacs have claimed to be divine—but only Jesus Christ truly was God, coming from Heaven and then returning to Heaven. He proved it not only by His miraculous deeds, but by His resurrection from the dead. Jesus rightly declared, “The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30). He is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the World and He demonstrated a never seen before humility of love.
That fact is made clear when the Son of God washed the disciples feet. When Jesus gathered His disciples for the Last Supper they were discussing who was the greatest. This wasn’t the first time that the twelve had gotten into this sort of silly debate. They had argued about the same matter while they walked at some distance from Jesus at Capernaum, thinking that He couldn’t hear what they were discussing (Mark 9:33-37). But He knew what they were discussing and used the occasion to teach them about childlike humility. On another occasion, the mother of James and John had come to Jesus to ask that her sons could sit on His right and left in the kingdom. The other disciples were indignant (Mark 10:35-45). What right had these two brothers to claim the top spots in the kingdom? Jesus taught them that the greatest should become the servant and the one who wished to be first should be the slave of all, adding, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
But in spite of these repeated lessons, here they were again, right on the eve of the Lord’s death, showing their human pride by arguing over which of them was the greatest. This shows us that although we can have this lesson in our heads, it takes a while to put it into practice. The greatest in God’s sight are those who humbly serve. And that point is clearly made sometime during the Supper, when Jesus got up, grabbed a towel, took a basin of water, and washed the disciples’ feet. Jesus faithfully served although He was the Son of God.
By example, Jesus was teaching his disciples that those who want to be great in God’s eyes allow themselves to be less in the eyes of man. A true servant leader offers to perform tasks no one else will do. To serve as Jesus did for the benefit of another shows the deepest level of love and humility. That is the humility of love.
- What does the humility of love mean to you?
- What can we do this week to have a servant’s heart?