Jesus spent time with his disciples just before his crucifixion. John chapter 13 begins with the account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Just imagine how flabbergasted they were to see their Master on his knees with a towel and a bowl of water performing such a menial task! Jesus had to argue with Peter before the proud fisherman would allow it.
After washing their feet Jesus returned to his place of honor at the table and asked his disciples if they understood what he had just done. They learned three things which still apply to the followers of Jesus today. First, if the Son of God is willing to perform such a humble task, then all who follow him should be willing to accept assignments that are less than glamorous.
Second, Jesus washed the feet of all twelve of his disciples, including Judas. Judas had been treated like a close friend, walking side by side with Jesus and his other disciples for almost three years. Nevertheless, he was about to shamefully betray Jesus, handing him over to his enemies for shocking and cruel treatment. And yet Jesus washed Judas’ feet, too. In following Jesus we will find ourselves sometimes serving those who are less than deserving.
Finally, Jesus’ footwashing was more than just a physical act of kindness. Washing feet symbolized the cleansing of souls. In fact, Jesus pictured his entire ministry with that one act of service. When he took off his outer garment and left the table it pictured him setting aside his glory in heaven and stepping into human history at Bethlehem. When he washed the feet of his disciples it pictured his humility on the cross outside Jerusalem, sacrificing himself to cleanse the souls of sinners. And when Jesus stood up and assumed again his place of honor at the table, it symbolized his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the throne in heaven.
In the same way that Jesus’ footwashing was filled with great symbolic meaning, our service is filled with great spiritual purpose. We do not serve simply to make this world a better place, although our actions will often ease suffering and increase joy. But much more than that, we are serving in a cosmic rescue mission led by an Eternal Savior who is pulling souls out of the vast kingdom of darkness and opening a way for them to have a permanent place in the everlasting kingdom of Light.
May we always represent our Lord Jesus Christ well through our humble service,
Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR