BY PASTOR T.O. BANSO
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, are You washing my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.’ Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me’” (John 13:1-8, NKJV).
In the Jewish culture, washing of feet is a common practice. When someone enters a house, especially if the person is a visitor, his or her feet must be washed. And that job was the responsibility of the least person in the home usually a servant or slave.
Jesus, by washing the feet of his disciples was setting an example for humble service – serving each other in humility. To wash each other’s feet is a metaphor for humble service, serving another person with humility or serving in the lowliness of heart. It demands not condescending, not feeling too important. According to Gal 6:3, “If you think you are too important to help someone in need, you are only fooling yourself. You are really a nobody” (NLT). Jesus said, “And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet” (John 13:14, NLT).
Peter was initially uncomfortable with what Jesus was doing but he had to submit himself to the process after Jesus had told him why he had to – “But if I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me” (John 13:8, NLT).
Here we see the Leader or Master serving the followers and Jesus not only did this, he clearly told the disciples to do the same. “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, 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 should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:12-17, NKJV).
What Jesus did on this occasion was consistent with his teachings elsewhere that he who is the greatest is the one who serves all. “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt 23:11, NKJV). “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35, NKJV). The leader is the servant of all. Luke 22:24-27 says, “And they began to argue among themselves as to who would be the greatest in the coming Kingdom. Jesus told them, ‘In this world the kings and great men order their people around, and yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Normally the master sits at the table and is served by his servants. But not here! For I am your servant” (NLT). This teaching of Jesus was revolutionary because it was contrary to the practice of leaders of his day.
Believers should not be waiting and contented to be served; they must offer service. Believers must serve each other in humility not feeling that they are better than or superior to some individuals. “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-7, NKJV). James 4:6 says a similar thing: “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (NKJV). God scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble (Prov 3:34).
Pride is what can make believers not to want to bend down to wash the feet of fellow believers like Jesus did for his disciples. And God hates pride as we have seen. The number one enemy of the proud is not the people they are proud to but God. God resists the proud, and if God resists someone, who will assist him? Humility won’t destroy you; it will make you. Pride, on the other hand, will destroy you. “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall” (Prov 16:18, NLT). Be humble. Humbly serve others.
No Christian should be high-minded and think he must be served rather than be serving others. Jesus says, “For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, NLT).
Jesus was not high-minded. He took the humble position of a slave and was born a human being so that he might serve humanity. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5-7, NKJV).
John 1:1-5 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (NKJV). Verse 14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus humbled himself; he became man to serve humans. If the Creator could serve those He created what excuse do you have?
The early church and humble service
Humble service was a practice in the early church. The seven deacons were appointed to serve at the table. The apostles said, “Now look around among yourselves, brothers, and select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. We will put them in charge of this business. Then we can spend our time in prayer and preaching and teaching the word” (Acts 6:3-4, NLT). The seven people chosen, eventually referred to as deacons, were chosen for service. The office of a deacon is not for prestige or a status symbol but for service. That was the intention, and it should remain so. It’s not a title.
In the early church, widows on the list for church support must, among others, have served other believers –washed their feet. (1 Tim 5:10) According to the New Living Translation, one of the questions to be asked is: “Has she served other Christians humbly?”
Emphasizing humble service today
The church today should emphasize that believers should serve each other in humility. We should do as Jesus did. Jesus says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matt 10:24, NKJV). If Jesus was a servant to all, and he was the greatest, we can’t be great without service. 1 John 3:16 says, “We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters” (NLT). That is not to say that we offer ourselves to die on the cross like Jesus did but that we sacrifice for others but if in the process we have to die, why not? Jesus did. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21, NKJV). What is important is that our lives should always honour Christ, whether we live or we die.
Jesus says in John 13:15 that he has given us an example that we should do as he has done. Will you follow Jesus’ example? Paul said he made himself a servant to all, that he might win the more (1 Cor 9:19).
Every Christian should have a servant-heart and joyfully serve others in humility. Don’t talk service; do service cheerfully! Follow the example of Jesus’ humble service; don’t emulate the devil’s pride. “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did” (1 John 2:6, NLT). The greatest, the first, is the servant of all.
If you’re not born again, I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523