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Loving and Sacrificial Service

One of the most amazing, mind-boggling accounts in the life of our Lord Jesus is found in John 13. It’s the shocking account of our Lord, the “Teacher” and “Lord” (John 13:13), girding Himself about and washing the feet of His disciples. The narrator, the Apostle John, tells us both the motivation for Jesus’ act and the lesson that the disciples (and we!) are to glean from.  

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having LOVED [emphasis mine] His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Those last words, “loved them to the end,” have the sense of “loved them to the max…to perfection…with a perfect kind of love…”

The passage goes on to tell us that Jesus girded Himself and served His disciples by washing their dirty, stinky feet. It was a menial, humble act reserved for the lowest of slaves. What humility! What joyful, willing condescension on the part of One who was (is!) THE perfect God-Man! What amazing love that motivated Him to serve His disciples this way. His loving service would soon be ultimately displayed in His suffering on the cross for them (and us).

But there was also a practical lesson, then for His disciples, but in the present for us as well.

“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? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 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’” (John 13:12-15; emphasis mine).

Our Lord’s genuine, heartfelt love for His disciples drove Him to serve them by washing their feet. For what purpose? That they (and us!) would walk in His steps and do likewise for one another. It’s an illustration from the greater to the lesser. If Christ, who is Supreme Lord, Teacher, and God of very God, could perform such a loving, humble act for sinful humans, how much more should we sinners saved by grace be willing to lovingly serve one another, who are on an equal, level, playing field?

And, as we learned from 1 Peter 4:10-11 this past Sunday, no Christian has an excuse not to serve. God doesn’t command something He hasn’t given us the ability to do. Every Christian has been provided with spiritual gifting for service and called to continually, habitually employ those gifts for the edification of God’s people, and the ultimate motivation of glorifying God, the gracious Giver of all of our resources.

May we strive as individuals and as a church to lovingly serve as our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ did, not only through this act, but all the way to the cross to pay for our sins.