The two thoughts which sandwich the washing of the disciples feet seemed significant to me this time around.
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.” (13:3-4)
I think we’re supposed to notice Jesus’ confidence in who He was and where He was going. This gives Him the powerful foundation to choose the position as a servant. I think this is what Paul picks up on and mentions in one of my favorite passages, Philippians 2:5-7.
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
It also ties in with the application Jesus gives his disciples as soon as He’s done it.
“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” (13:14-15)
It wasn’t just a one-off, special thing He decided to do for His friends before dying, He was creating an example of humility and service. He even goes on to say that love will be what makes people able to identify His disciples.
In order to follow this example, truly, I think we need to be anchored in an understanding of who we are and where we’re going.
Becoming a servant, or prescribing servanthood to others, can be a recipe for disaster if pride, insecurity or purposelessness seeps in.
To best love and serve one another, we need to get our identity sorted. Do you know who you are? Do you know why you exist in the time and place God placed you? Ask Him about it today.