After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Everyone longs to live the blessed life. There are countless formulas for how to attain that truly blessed and happy life. Sadly, most formulas are pointed in the wrong direction, and will disappoint rather than bless. In today’s Scripture text Jesus shows that the way to a truly blessed life comes not by self-seeking and self-promotion, but only by following His example.
On this night before Jesus lays down His life, He lays aside His outer garments, takes the role of the lowliest of servants, and sets about washing dirty feet. Then having washed and dried the last foot, He asks His disciples: “Do you know what I have done?” Jesus’ question implies that there is more going on here than meets the eye. In fact, the disciples will not fully grasp the significance of what Jesus has done until they arrive on the other side of the cross. But for now, at least they can understand this act of lowliest service to others. “For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done.”
Jesus down on His knees washing dirty feet, even Judas’ feet, is a revelation of the Father’s heart. And so He calls us to a life of humble, self-sacrificing love for others. The Apostle John, whose own feet were washed that night, wrote to fellow believers many years later: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (I John 3:16).
This points the way to true blessedness. This is to live close to the Father’s heart.
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?