A Towel and Basin
Topic: Gospel of John Passage: John 13:1–13:17
In the opening scene of the Upper Room Discourse in John’s gospel, there are TWO REASONS Jesus washed His disciple’s feet.
1. TO PROVIDE A SYMBOL OF SPIRITUAL CLEANSING (vv. 1-11)
The first thing that Jesus needed to do to prepare His disciples for His coming death was to help them to get over their own egos. It was the time of Passover, which provided a vivid picture of Jesus as the Passover sacrifice. Jesus knew that the hour of His death had come - that the hour of the purpose of His coming had arrived (John 17:4). During this time, Jesus demonstrated the extent of His love for His disciples in a way that would assure them of His love. By washing His disciple’s feet, Jesus showed that they should consider each other more important than themselves (Philippians 2:3-4), and in the process, He was in essence explaining the difference between justification and sanctification (1 Corinthians 6:11, Titus 3:5, 1 John 1:7).
2. TO PROVIDE A STANDARD OF SACRIFICIAL SERVING (vv. 12-17)
The disciples were not eager to wash each other’s feet, but Jesus admonished them to serve one another - just as they had been served by Him. Jesus was encouraging them to adopt a humble, selfless attitude. To not do so, the disciples would essentially be considering themselves greater than each other, and moreover, greater than Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus taught His disciples that by doing to others what He had done for them, they would be blessed (happy). This happiness is tied to our obedience to the the Word of God (Psalm 1:1, Luke 11:28, James 1:22). Our attitude should therefore be like Christ’s (Philippians 2:3-8). Jesus left His throne to become one of us in selflessness and humility.
Thank God for the example Jesus set of a humble, selfless servant. Ask Him to help you learn to serve others like He did and stop always fighting for a throne and start always fighting for a towel.