The Portrait Gallery of Jesus – Part 13
Pastor Randall Floyd
Clayton A/G – Church for the REST of Us!
(All Scripture quotations are from the NIV, unless otherwise stated.)
The Apostle John Gospel Wing – Portrait 13
John 13:1-11 – Servant
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
Just as it is difficult for some of us to relate to the term “King”, so many have trouble relating to Jesus as “servant”. Yet, throughout His entire ministry here on earth He exemplified the very heart of a perfect servant. Not only did He do so to fulfill may Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah being the “suffering servant”, but He did so to leave us an example of how we are to minster to people today. In fact, the word minister simply means “to serve”.
In today’s passage we find Jesus humbling Himself and carrying out one of them lowest tasks a servant was expected to do in a household during that time and in that culture – wash feet. I know a little about that – I worked in a shoe store while in college. And believe me, not everyone is polite enough to wash their feet and put on clean socks before going to the shoe store! It was a very unpleasant, menial, almost humiliating task, but it was the height of social rudeness not to have it done when people entered your house.
The task usually fell to one of two people – a servant, or in the case of no household servants, the youngest child. Since we read of no servants in the Upper Room this Passover night, the task should have fallen to the youngest of the Twelve. Or to one of the others who so felt inclined. But they were all too worried about who would have the seat of honor near Jesus – both at this dinner and in the life to come. How often do we miss real honor because we’re jockeying for position and honor that is superficial at best?
Jesus finally gets up and performs this humbling task. Why? How? The why is because He wants us to know that “if we’re not willing to clean toilets, we’re not ready to stand behind the pulpit” (a concept/quote that I heard long ago and now use frequently). But what stumps many people more than the why is the how – how could Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, humble Himself to do such a lowly job? The answer is right there in the Scripture.
Go back and read verse three again. Jesus knew two important facts that we would all do well to apply to our lives. The first is that God the Father had already placed all things under His power. Nothing could change that fact then or now. It really does become easier to minister wherever you are, and in whatever circumstances you find yourself when you remember that all things are under the power of Jesus – including yourself and your circumstances.
The second reason Jesus could do this in the second part of verse three – he had come from God and was returning to God. Jesus knew where He came from and where He was going. Whatever happened in between was of little consequence, so long as He was in the Father’s will. The same is true for you and me today – we can endure anything that comes along so long as we remember where we came from, and where we’re going.
Being a servant for Jesus should never be belittled or taken for granted – for even He was willing to wear the towel of a servant and wash feet of the undeserving. To solidify that fact, let me leave you with this one fact, often overlooked by the casual Bible reader. Jesus even washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray Him. So, next time Jesus puts that person in your path and says, “Serve them”, don’t begin to tell Jesus how undeserving they are. His example won’t let you.