John 13:5 – Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
As the Passover meal was a private gathering of Jesus and his disciples, there was no-one playing the part of host and there were no servants to serve. It would appear that none of the disciples were prepared to take on this role so they all sat down around the table with their dusty feet. Jesus, always the Teacher, saw that another lesson needed to be taught. So, getting up from the table, ‘he laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist’ and proceeded to wash everyone’s feet. Peter could not believe what was happening and the image of the Messiah kneeling before him was just too much for him to comprehend; “Lord…you shall never wash my feet.” I imagine the rest sat in stunned silence. When he had finished, he took his place once more at the table and asked them,
“Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”
Jesus chose the humblest of acts to portray the heart of a servant. He had heard discussions and questions on a number of occasions as to who was the greatest and his message was consistent: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matt20:26). Again, he tells them now, “A servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” There is no hierarchy among God’s children; there are no blue-collar and white-collar Christians. We are one people, we are all equal and we are all servants of the King. “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
If the Lord can bend down in humble service, then each of us can take the basin and towel and bow in loving service to one another.