It is Thursday evening, and the crucifixion will happen on Friday. Jesus is meeting with his disciples in the last meal, and in it, giving them instructions and assurances, and again predicting his death. Much of this did not register with the disciples, as indicated by their responses upon his arrest and desertion after the sham trial. But Jesus has some final lessons for his disciples, which will shape them and the early church after his resurrection and departure to heaven.
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, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their 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. John 13:6-11.
1. Jesus’ Finishing of His Earthly Ministry – A Life of Love. We are now on the eve of the crucifixion. Fittingly, this is just before the Passover Celebration, the blood of the lamb that preserved the Jewish households in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. It is the first of three pilgrimage festivals. Passover represents the preservation and saving of Israel from slavery, and deliverance from their enemies. It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1.
2. Jesus’ Adversary to the End. Consistent with the biblical themes, beginning in the garden of Eden, extending through the life and events of Job, and the enemies of God and Israel, the devil remains active. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. John 13:2. Judas’ betrayal will become increasingly prominent in these last hours.
3. Jesus’ Leading by Service and Humility. Consistent with His message, in order to be great, you have to serve, in order to be first, you have to be last, Jesus lovingly washes the feet of his disciples. 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. John 13:3-5. Normally this was a task for a servant, but no servant was in attendance. And none of the disciples were willing to perform this task of humility and service. Fittingly, and mere hours before his crucifixion, here is Jesus, on the floor, washing the feet of his disciples.
The presentation of the Kingdom of God was wholly different from any earthly standards. No army, no conquering legions, no battle plans for destroying the enemy. Just Jesus, son of God, kneeling not only before the will of the Father to offer his life a sacrifice for our sins, but now washing the disciples feet, modeling the service that was greatness in the Kingdom and in His life:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11.
Whether on earth or in heaven, the true measure of leadership is service and humility and sacrifice, being first willing to do for others what you would ask of them as well. Next week we will look at how to recover from the greatest failures in our lives. Stay well.
(Photo from www.LumoProject.com)