Photo excerpt from Inspire Bible, NLT, Tyndall House Publishers, Inc.
In John 13:3-7, we learn something vitally important. Verses 3 through 5 tell us, “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.”
I think about this scene and wonder what went through the disciples’ minds as Jesus rose from the table.
“What is He doing? Is He going somewhere?”
Then He took off His robe, which had to really make them wonder. And when He poured water into the basin? Had they figured it out at that point? Maybe?
If so, I’ll bet they were shooting truly startled glances at each other, trying to decide who would speak first. Their Rabbi, this man they had followed, who had led them and taught them, loved them and corrected them, was behaving like a common household servant.
By this time, they surely knew He did nothing without purpose. But what was His purpose? They had to wonder.
“You don’t understand now what I am doing,” Jesus told Peter, “but someday you will.”
The reason for what Jesus was doing – serving – is rooted in verse 3: “Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.” Jesus knew exactly who and what He was. He had absolutely nothing to prove to anyone, no doubts about Himself.
This passage has been used often to remind us that as Christians we are here to serve, and that is the clear message here (v. 12-17). But there is, perhaps, a less clear message waiting for us as well. It is the man who does have something to prove that refuses to serve, but demands service. It is the unsure man who requires that a pedestal be planted firmly under his feet.
Jesus could serve readily as He did because He was confident in Who He was. This is key. As Christians, we need to pursue a genuine understanding of who we are in Christ Jesus. Once we grasp the fullness of this revelation, it will be nothing for us to kneel and wash another’s feet. Service will have become part of who we are.
I have seen this over and over in those with whom I serve. My pastor, who is also my boss and a tremendous man of God, reminds the staff often that to follow Christ is to serve, and we should check our hearts if we ever forget this fact.
But what about those that some would call Christian celebrities? Yes, if they truly follow Jesus, they serve. You may not see or recognize their service for what it is, but I assure you it’s true; if they wholeheartedly follow Jesus, they serve.
John Ramirez is one excellent example of this. He comes to our church every year, and draws large crowds when he does. The last time he came, he showed up at the church early on Sunday morning – just walked in the front door like anyone else. Some of us were setting things up for service and he joined right in, picking up the end of a table to move it into place. When urged to stand aside and let others handle it, he reminded us that we’re all servants, him included, and assured us that he wanted to serve.
That’s what I’m talking about. He knows who he is in Christ Jesus! Yes, he is John Ramirez, someone we look forward to being with every year, but first and foremost he is a follower of his Lord, Jesus Christ, and that is what really matters.
Child of God, remember who you are, whose you are. Yes, as a son or daughter of the Most High, you are indeed a very important person. You have absolutely nothing to prove to man, because you have already been approved by the One who really matters. So set aside all pride and need for validation. Be confident in who you are and follow the example Jesus set for us: Serve.