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  • Writer's pictureJill Ball

Heart of a Servant

When we consider who Jesus really is, this is the most radical part of his character. He came to serve, not to be served and to give his life as a ransom for many.

so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 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.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
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.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13 v 4 – 17

This is an unusual thing to do, but when I glimpse it through Middle Eastern eyes, I am overwhelmed.

Jesus was the honoured teacher. For the disciples, he was their Lord. They followed him and respected him, but they didn’t think that it was their job to wash Jesus’ feet. That was a job for a slave or a servant, the person who had the least status and honour in society.

When the woman anointed Jesus’ feet and dried them with her hair, it was shocking for all who saw it, but at least Jesus was being honoured. This was society’s expectation.

If he was a king, David’s son, the coming Messiah, then he should be respected and honoured even more.

But Jesus didn’t care about convention

He had come to serve, not to be served.

He was teaching them by demonstrating this.

He was giving them an example to follow.

Washing Feet

Every year, during Holy Week, the Pope washes the feet of 12 people.

This is an example for Christians of every denomination.

Have you ever had your feet washed by somebody? It is a humbling experience.

Some people find it difficult to accept help or others serving them. I knew a kind, Christian lady who lived in Devon, UK. She was always helping others, but if others tried to help her, she couldn’t accept it.

Peter struggled with this too. Jesus is very clear with Peter. To be part of his disciples he had to accept Jesus washing his feet.

Read more about the depth of the love of God and our response

Next week we will look at what Jesus really looked like.

From early images, paintings from around the world and how scientists have attempted to reconstruct the Face of Christ.

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