THE FEET WASH | …Learning from the servant-leadership of Jesus

In this Lenten season, the holy week is one of the most important times in Christian history. If Jesus had never come, died and resurrected, there wouldn’t have been redemption for the Jews and acceptance for the Gentiles. The Holy week is a time Jesus started summarizing His mission on earth before the mission He handed to us! This is where the salvation story made so much sense. It was in the Holy Week that Judas betrayed Jesus not knowing he is being used to fulfil scripture! Jesus turned Judas’s betrayal for that purpose.

In this Lenten season, the holy week is one of the most important times in Christian history. If Jesus had never come, died and resurrected, there wouldn’t have been redemption for the Jews and acceptance for the Gentiles. The Holy week is a time Jesus started summarizing His mission on earth before the mission He handed to us! This is where the salvation story made so much sense. It was in the Holy Week that Judas betrayed Jesus not knowing he is being used to fulfil scripture! Jesus turned Judas’s betrayal for that purpose.

However, Jesus did something very amazing. While they were taking the last supper, Jesus, knowing that it was time to depart the world decided to show us something important! It was one of the last training the disciples received before the death of Jesus. He got up from the meal, took off his outer garment, poured water into the basin, wrapped a towel around His waist and started washing the feet of His disciples. He is the Lord, the Master; the one who had wrought so many miracles! He was the one who would want them to give Him a final treat. But no, He used His own cloth, stoops low and started washing their feet one after another.

Do you know what this meant? In those days, the foot was the dirtiest part of the human body because much of their movements were done on foot. The road those days weren’t tiled like we do today; it was full of stones and dust. It was servants who would always wash the feet of their master. Jesus did it this time to those who call Him “master”. Jesus reversed the order and this is the highest display of humility!

Well, Peter was not comfortable with this because as an elder person he knew it wasn’t right in the human eyes for a master to serve his servant in that manner. Others might have allowed Jesus to do it because they were scared to talk and not because they understood Jesus. Peter, as usual, spoke up against it and asked “My Lord and my master, if they allowed you to wash their own feet, do you think you will do the same with me? Am I worthy of that?”
Jesus with a smile full of expressions of love said to him “you will not understand what I am doing now but you will understand later.”

Peter still couldn’t take it! It was to him that God revealed the unique identity of Jesus as the son of God! Having known Jesus by revelation, Peter just couldn’t bear it watching Jesus wash his feet! How could he allow a man who has the power to put the world to an end serve him? Oh, No! Peter just won’t want that to happen. To him, it would be a privilege to wash the feet of Jesus and not the other way round. He insisted “I insist Lord; you may wash their feet but not mine! Never!” Jesus responded, “If you won’t have me wash your feet, you aren’t qualified to be part of me!”

This response of Jesus is what inspired me to write this! What did Jesus mean by that? Jesus was training them in ministry and this was a part of it! Jesus was saying “if you do not want me to teach you this too, then you will not be able to do ministry!” Jesus explained this after He had finished washing them; He sat back and started explaining to them the mystery of what He has done. He said “Let me make you understand what I just did. You all call me your teacher and Lord and I am not denying it. But being your Lord, what did I do? I washed your feet to teach you that you must do so to others regardless of the respect and honour they accord to you! I did it so that you can learn of me and do likewise knowing that you remain servants and your calling is a call to service! If you do this, you are blessed by it.”

Reading this got tears to my eyes seeing what we have turned it all to these days. Jesus wants us to learn of Him and serve the flocks He had handed over to us. This is especially for ministers of the gospel, every leader and of course every believer! Jesus doesn’t want us to parade our titles and levels of faith around, He wants us to show the highest form of humility! This isn’t about washing the feet of people on Maundy Thursday; it is about making it a lifestyle of being humble to those people God has left to our care.

Washing of feet today isn’t about bending to wash people’s feet because it may not mean to us today what it meant to them at that time. So what Jesus wants to have us do is to serve one another as believers and serve the people of God as ministers of the gospel. It has never been the idea of Jesus to glorify another above another and being a Bishop, Pastor, and Evangelist and so on is responsibility and not an opportunity to have men bow at you! In those days, not all servants wash the feet of their master, it was the responsibility of the lowliest servant and Jesus wants us especially the Pastors to serve the people in deep meekness!

It is very displeasing to God when ministers start seeking pre-eminence. There is always news of power tussle in the Church gathering, news of Pastors seeking extra-ordinary honour and imposing it on members and Pastors wanting to be highly esteemed above those they are meant to serve. Well, these aren’t the example Jesus had set for us! It is displeasing to God. God wants us to have the heart of the lowliest servant, to serve the people He has given to our care in absolute meekness knowing that it is Him who bless us as we stay humble and serve. The reward for our service is God’s to give and not those we have been given to serve.

Ponder on this.
Bible Reference: John 13:1-17

~ George O.N

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