Most people wish to be taller than they are but I don’t. If anything I wish I was a little shorter. Why? Because of all the problems that tall people deal with. Whenever I walk into older buildings, low ceilings are never my friend. I have to watch out for low-hanging branches all the time and most of all, I am everyone’s top-shelf helper. I remember when I was at the grocery store one time just shopping away and a short, elderly lady from several aisles down came and asked me very politely to help her with something off the top shelf. My first reaction, in my head, was to ask if I looked like a ladder and tell her to go ask the manager. But I knew that probably wouldn’t go over well – she seemed like she could throw down. In any case, out of my own conviction, I decided to walk over to her aisle and help her with her groceries off the top shelf. After I had gotten it for her, for some reason I had this sense of entitlement that I deserved some reward for helping her out. All that I got from her was a thank you and the typical God bless your soul statement before she walked away. I don’t know what I was expecting from her, whether it be a toffee or for her to pay for my groceries but I realized it was in my human nature to be recognized for something I did though it is a responsibility that I have as a believer. In John 13, Christ addresses this to His disciples through a very humbling form of service.
3 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, 4 got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 12 So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
Have you ever considered cleaning someone else’s feet? I’m sickened by just the thought of it. But the example Christ sets for his disciples is quite convicting. He isn’t asking them to go around and clean random people’s feet but to reflect His example of service to others. We can pull out three main points from this passage of how Christ wants us to PREPARE for service, PRACTICE service, and PATTERN our service.
In verse 4 we see that Christ prepares for service by first laying aside his coat and then taking on a towel. Consider the example Christ sets of laying aside any form of status or position and then taking up the role of a servant. When the disciples consider who this is they must be astonished. We can use the context of Simon Peter’s reaction to know that he was very uncomfortable with the Son of God washing his feet! Peter’s reaction to Christ is, “Never shall You wash my feet!” The same way when we are getting ready to serve the Lord we have to prepare by humbling ourselves and see where we are the most capable of serving. We could spend time in prayer and devotion, help with the planning stages of an outreach event, or even support financially with whatever needs may come up.
In verse 5 Christ actually practices service by following through and going to each disciple to wash their feet. He dedicates time and special attention to each one of them. When we are serving the Lord, we can’t just talk about it and plan for it – we actually have to go out and do the work! Serving the Lord is hard work and it very rarely comes easy. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and sometimes even disappointment if things don’t always go the way you expect. Christ is looking for those who want to serve with a willing heart. He doesn’t want those who have selfish motives or are doing it for self-gain or self-glory. We see many instances in the Scriptures where Christ calls out the Pharisees for their “service.” He plainly says to them that it isn’t true service, but rather they just keep up an image with the people. He’s looking for genuine individuals who want to seek and serve Him without having ulterior motives.
In verse 14 we see that Christ wants the disciples to pattern His form of service. He tells them very plainly that they should serve others just like He has served them. That is the same way we should set up and practice our service towards God. When others see how we are serving, they shouldn’t repeat based on the words we say but rather the actions we do. We set an example for others based on what we practice ourselves. Our actions speak much louder than our words. When we are an example of working hard for God, it is an inspiration to others in the congregation, social settings, and even secular setting to do the same!
If are believers in Christ, we are all called to serve the Lord. When we received salvation we also received certain spiritual gifts as well. Those spiritual gifts were given to us so that we could serve God in specific ways. We all have a responsibility to use those gifts as believers. When we don’t it is hurtful to God and we aren’t living for Him to our full potential. When we apply our spiritual gifts we should serve starting with preparation, execute with practice, and establish a pattern for other believers to follow. For all that Christ has done for us, the least we can do is live for Him through a life of selfless servitude!