As we close the seven days of devotions on humility and move on to the next topic, we would be amiss if we did not examine one of the most significant acts of humility in the Bible. John 13:1-17, captures the text of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet in the upper room, the last supper. For Jesus, this was a display of humility and a true act of his servanthood. But why was this significant?
Let me paint a picture for you of the setting. Walking in sandals on the dirty roads of Israel in the first century made is critically important that feet be washed before a communal meal. The people back then at a reclined level and at a low table and feet were very much seen and in the general area as the food. It was typically reserved for the lowliest servant to wash the feet of their masters. When Jesus rose from the table and began to wash the feet of the disciples, they must have been stunned at this act of humility. This was Jesus the Christ, their master and Lord washing dirty nasty, smelly feet! They should have been the ones washing his feet as this was their work, not His. We must remember however that when Jesus came to this earth the first time he came not as a conquering king, but as the suffering servant. He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 10:28). This act of washing the feet of the disciples was an act of foreshadowing of his ultimate act of humility, sacrifice, and love on the cross.
Jesus attitude of servanthood was in direct opposition to the disciples that had been recently arguing with each other over who among them was the greatest of all (Luke 22:24). We can assume from the text that there was no servant among them to wash their feet; it would have never occurred to them to wash each other’s feet. When Jesus was done washing their feet, He told them, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.”
As followers of Jesus, we are leaders of other people, every Christian is a minister whether you like it or not. As His followers, we are to emulate Him, serving one another in lowliness of heart and mind, seeking to build each other up in love and humility. We must have a servant’s heart putting other people ahead of ourselves.
If Jesus was our example and He was the ultimate servant, how much more should we focus on serving others and less on ourselves and our human wants and desires?
We become like the disciples sometimes, arguing among ourselves about how great we are and putting ourselves higher up than what we should be thinking we are more important than we are. We as a body of believers need to learn the art of humility and humble ourselves before the Lord and let Him lift us up, not us lifting ourselves up.
What acts of a humble servant can you do today? How can you serve someone else today? What can you do to demonstrate humility this day and this week?
As we continue this time of devotions, remember leading by example requires humility. Always be humble and kind to each other, and lift one another up, just as Jesus lifts us up and let nothing unwholesome come out of your mouths, except that which is good for building others up (Ephesians 4:29)