image courtesy of Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles by Meister des Hausbuches
One of the celebrations of the liturgical church for Maundy Thursday is the foot washing. This is a beautiful ceremony where are reminded of where Jesus set an example for His disciples (John 13:15). But what was that example? Why did Jesus wash their feet?
We often think about the servanthood of Jesus to take on the role of a slave and wash their feet. Love most certainly cares for the needs of those it is directed towards. While there is an aspect of this that cannot be exalted too highly, I believe that many Christians have taken this view too far where they abase themselves. Someone being a servant will not create the stir that Jesus did in the room that night.
This passage starts with, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God” (John 13:3). The confusion in the room was around someone who knew He was awesome submitting Himself to becoming a servant. This is the humility of Jesus. It is saying, “I know who I am and I give myself freely.”
Jesus was not only giving an example of servanthood, He was also giving an example of identity. Service without identity is normal. It says that you are better than me and I will do things for you so I will feel better about myself. Service in the midst of knowing your identity portrays love – I am not trying to get anything from you other than to display my love.
Finally, Jesus took off His outer clothing (John 13:4). It is humility, vulnerability, and transparency. We often only think of transparency as confessing our failures, but there is so much more. It is also sharing our dreams and our successes. It is sharing who we are.
Jesus knew He was important. He was telling His disciples they were important. They were to tell nations they were important.
This is how husbands are to love wives. Pastors are to love their parish. Employers are to love employees. Presidents are to love their country.
Go and do likewise.