The Place of a Servant
I had just said something really stupid. You know, the kind of thing that you don’t really mean, and regret the moment it comes out of your mouth. Let’s just say—on this night, anyway—I wouldn’t be walking away with any husband-of-the-month awards.
After Natalie left the room, I sank into a seat, frustrated and upset—a little at her, but mostly at myself. Almost immediately simultaneous voices began fighting for territory in my mind.
Come on, man, you can’t let her get away with that! Now go in there and put her in her place.
Jimmy, take a deep breath and get your head on straight. The only way to do that is to spend time with Me.
I decided to open my Bible, landing in John 13. I began reading about Jesus’ interactions with His disciples during the Last Supper. The all-powerful King of the universe was about to be nailed to a cross. But Jesus wasn’t focused on the future; He still had present truth to share with His friends.
With a bowl of water in hand and a towel draped over His arm, Jesus bent down and began to wash the feet of each of His 12 disciples. Silky dress socks and polished loafers didn’t cover these feet. After a long day of walking, each foot was caked with layers of grime and dust. Washing feet was grunge work, a job reserved for the lowest of servants.
Which is exactly why Jesus did it.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14, 15).
In that moment the Word came alive and compelled me to follow Jesus’ example.
I popped up and walked into the living room. Proverbially cold, Natalie was right where I expected her, next to our gas-powered fireplace. I knew she’d been having pain in her upper back, so I sat next to her and began rubbing her neck and shoulders.
I was washing her feet.
All About Others
When it comes to the foot-washing portion of the Communion service, it’s easy to go through the motions. You wait in line with your family to go into the fellowship hall or an empty Sabbath school room. A deacon scoops water into a perfectly sized basin and hands you a white towel. You find an empty chair and insist you’d like to wash your companion’s feet first. After all, it’s Communion Sabbath, the day you put others first.
When Jesus said to follow His example and wash one another’s feet, His point was much broader than any Sabbath Communion service. I’m not saying going through Communion isn’t a good thing; it is, but only if it becomes more than a ritual.
A stranger cuts you off in the parking lot, stealing the spot you’ve been waiting for. When you see him inside the grocery store, you’re tempted to repay the favor. But something tells you to do the opposite. Wash his feet.
Your coworker has a habit of insulting your intelligence. Today she seems stressed out and is falling behind. A still small voice whispers: Wash her feet.
Your kids are driving you nuts; your husband isn’t helping around the house. You’re ready to let your anger loose and take a mental health day at the spa. Then you remember the words of Jesus. Wash their feet.
When it came to serving, Jesus didn’t play favorites. He washed John’s feet, the one whom He loved. He washed Peter’s feet, the one who would deny Him. He washed Judas’ feet, the one who would betray Him.
Today we will face a choice, perhaps more than one. The easy thing to do is to let our pride take over. The harder choice is to take the position of a servant and wash the dirt and grime off our neighbors’ feet.
Whose example will we follow?