JOHN:The Book of Heartfelt Belief

Improving Your Serve

John 13:1-20

Jerry A. Collins



A friend of mine in the Christian music field has had some disturbing things to say about this industry. It is all about money I was told. It is about who is the hottest right now and who is not. It is not about service but about being served. Well, Jesus left us an example of how He expected His followers to live their lives. His example of foot washing is not only contradictory to this music industries expectations but also to any of ours when we attempt to be served instead of serving. Jesus stated that this was an example for us to follow 13:15. Instead of seeking preeminence we should attempt humble service toward one another, service characterized by self-sacrifice, denying of ourselves and the taking up of our own crosses daily. The challenge here for us, is that our culture exalts exactly the opposite. We can get so easily caught up in seeking our own pleasure ethic, getting all of the gusto we can, deserving a break today and asserting our own rites! Jesus example here remains for all of us who claim to be Christ followers. So what does Jesus practice of foot washing teach us?

1. Jesus washing of disciples feet was service 13:4-12

We learn that even though it seems like events are spinning out of control; Jesus impending death vs 1; Satan motivating Judas betrayal vs 2; our Lords sovereignty and not His suffering is being stressed here vs 3. He knew everything was as it should be vs 4. Even if it seems that things are out of control in our lives, nothing is happening that is not in Gods plan for us. He is in absolute control of all things. In spite of this, Jesus washed His disciples feet. Is it possible for us to ever become so important that we ignore serving one another? We follow Jesus example when we service each other. That foot washing service can include many kinds of things but it is servant work. What better image than carrying a washbasin and towels as our outfit of service to our spouse; children; enemies; disciples.

2. Jesus washing of disciples feet was practical service 13:10

The service of washing feet was necessary because of dusty roads and dirty feet. Having your feet washed by someone or washing them yourselves was a practical necessity--clean feet as you reclined around the table to eat. Our service should also produce practical benefits for one another. In other words we should not just do ‘busy work’ or service just for service sake. If someone is thirsty give them something to drink. As servants, our service should provide some practical benefit when that is possible.

3. Jesus washing of disciples feet was menial service 13:12

Apparently no-one was jumping at the chance to serve each other in such a menial way. When Jesus was washing their feet it was dirty work requiring he get his hands dirty too. Even Peter attempted to keep Jesus from doing such a menial task for him. Our service also involves menial moments when we are required to get ourselves dirty as we get involved with serving one another. Menial moments when you will never get recognition for what you have done. When it will mean getting involved a little deeper than originally needed. Humble, menial service is service with honor.

4. Jesus washing of disciples feet was voluntary 13:4

Jesus was not fulfilling any Old Testament commandment or prophecy nor was this service the kind of service expected of Jesus from others. It is service above and beyond the call of duty. He was not doing what someone had instructed him to do. We must volunteer for this service whenever it is needed. Are you signed up already? We never know when this foot washing service is needed but we must be willing to volunteer for it every time it is. Peer pressure of the disciples did not keep Jesus from stepping up to volunteer. We just have to rid ourselves of the excuses we use to rationalize why we are not volunteering. Jesus did not wait for someone else to do it. Neither should we. Faced with a foot washing ministry moment, we must already be signed up so we can automatically volunteer!

5. Jesus washing of disciples feet was a task another could have done13:16

Jesus is on the verge of His exaltation into heaven. He has a name above every name. He could have sat there and commanded any one of the disciples to wash feet. Jesus did what someone else could have done, what the disciples expected someone else to do! No matter our station in life, foot washing service must mark us out as followers of Jesus. Success and wealth and achievement and status does not somehow exempt us from servanthood. It can give us an even greater capacity and opportunity to provide this kind of feet washing ministry toward one another.

6. Jesus washing of disciples feet was done to undeserving 13:5, 11

Just recently this collection of disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest amongst them in Gods kingdom. These same followers were the ones who would desert him, deny him, betray him and Jesus washed their feet. We cannot pick and choose whose feet we can wash. We must also wash the feet of our enemies, those who despitefully use us and those who refuse to care for us. Those who hurt us and attempt to destroy us. Those who misunderstand us and abuse us. When you volunteer servanthood toward someone undeserving of it then you are washing the feet Jesus would wash!

7. Jesus washing of disciples feet does not appear very spiritual or significant 13:17

Jesus does something that only a few people will benefit from or know of. Foot washing is mundane, everyday, garden-variety service that does not appear to be that significant in light of all the events spiraling around this moment. Yet, this example is the one single significant and spiritual benefit that identifies us as believers to the world. We must not be quick to seize ministry opportunities that appear prominent, popular, prestigious. The most significant results come from most insignificant things (sling, mustard seed).

8. Jesus washing of disciples feet was selfless and sacrificial service 13:13-14

We must get ourselves out of the way. Jesus served without a thought for his personal comfort, his position, his power. Neither should we. Contrary to the spirit of our age, we must put selves aside and wash one anothers feet!