“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14).
The contrast is remarkable. Jesus knew he would be betrayed and arrested any minute, and his disciples were bickering over trivial things (cf. Luke 22:24). We sit here on the high horse of historical advantage and look down on them for their immaturity and lack of perception.
None of them fully understood the gravity of what was happening in front of them. The betrayer was at the table, and Jewish leaders were just waiting for him to give the signal. Within a matter of moments, Jesus would be taken from them, mistreated, unjustly accused, savagely tortured, mocked and nailed to a Roman cross to await the inevitable mercy only death could bring. As they celebrated Passover, little did Jesus’ disciples know that before the same hour the following day, Jesus’ body would be lying in Joseph’s tomb.
It was obvious to Jesus as they bickered over who was greatest, that they still needed much instruction, but time was short. He gave them one final lesson – one that embodied all he had said and done – one they wouldn’t fully appreciate until after his death and resurrection (John 13:7).
He grabbed a towel, and some water, and began to wash their feet. They all had filthy feet. They all needed the lesson (John 13:8).
We all have filthy feet. We all need the lesson.
If we are going to follow this King – if we would be great in his kingdom – we must all be willing to serve as he did.