John 13: 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him… 12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”
The Kingdom of God has a very different orientation than our natural world. In God’s Kingdom the first are last and the last are first. To lose one’s life is to save it, and to save it is to lose it. Eternal life begins with the experience of the cross (death). In our passage Jesus gives a concrete example of what leadership looks like in the Kingdom.
Jesus is the rabbi, the teacher, the guest of honor at the table. Washing the guests’ feet would have been a task for the lowliest person in the household – the servant – not the guest of honor. Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet is a reversal of roles that is startling to everyone present. V.15 tells us clearly, “For I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” In other words, you should serve one another rather than try to lord over one another.
We just finished a LONG political season as we Americans went to the polls on Tuesday for the mid-term elections. Here in Texas there was a close race for the US senate between the incumbent Ted Cruz and the challenger Beto O’Rourke. Combined they raised – and spent – over $100 million in their bid for the job. $100 million! I’m sorry, but that is OBSCENE! I can assure you US senators do not serve in the way Jesus did. Theirs is not a humble existence, but one filled with privilege and power – lording over others.
But now I’m confessing other peoples’ sins, which is not generally a helpful practice. Truth is I have as lot of growing to do in this area myself. I often fail to take a posture of humble service when I have the chance. The Lord has some work to do in me.
Lord Jesus, yours is a startling example for Christians to follow. Give us grace to reflect your heart of love for others as we serve people in simple ways. Amen.