“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” – John 13:15
Today’s Scripture Reading: John 13:1-17
Our journey through Passion Week takes a somber turn on Thursday. From Bethany Jesus sends Peter and John ahead to a special upper room in Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover meal. After sunset, Jesus takes the place of a house servant and washes the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share the Passover meal together. By performing this humble act of service, Jesus demonstrates, by example, what it truly means for us to love one another.
This day is Maundy Thursday in church tradition. “Maundy” comes from mandé, a word that has its roots in the Latin mandatum. In the Latin text, it’s the first word of John 13:34, where Jesus states: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus makes this statement shortly after washing his disciples’ feet. Maundy Thursday is the day Jesus shows, by example, what it truly means to love someone. It’s simply being a servant.
Ask just about anybody, in any church gathering, if they’d like to be a servant, and you’ll probably get the same response. The answer, most definitely, will be a resounding yes. As followers of Jesus, we all want to feel we’re serving the King. We all want to experience that warm feeling inside from serving someone in need. We want to see the smiles of appreciation and feel the hugs of gratitude. We want to be known as servants, willing to do anything and sacrifice everything for our magnificent Savior. We all want to be servants. That is, until we’re treated like servants. Then we complain.
Service is not always very fun. It can get dirty. It can get ugly. It can get risky. It’s not always tidy, or safe. But it’s always appropriate. And, as Jesus demonstrated, you never outgrow it. You’re never too big for it. Never too important.
Jesus said when we serve anyone in need, even the least in the eyes of humanity, we are actually serving him.[i] Serving Jesus means serving the person in our path. It means loving the unlovable and offering hope to the hopeless. It means stooping low. It means getting dirty. It means following his example.
Today is just a day ahead of the most painful day in Jesus’ life. Jesus understands his origins with the Father in Glory. He knows the torture ahead of him, as well as the resurrected glory that was to follow. Yet, on this day of dread and somber anticipation, Jesus still stoops to take care of the needs around him. He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords. Yet he willingly gets on his hands and knees and washes their dirty feet. What a model of service! With this example, we have no excuse not to serve.
- When is the last time you served someone in need?
- How could you start developing a habit of service?
[i] Matthew 25:40