Christ Washing Peter’s Feet Ford Maddox Brown, English Painter (1821-1893)
(…continued) Yet Jesus, respected rabbi and master and Lord, grabbed a towel, got down on his knees, and washed the feet of his disciples– disciples who, on occasion, could get into big arguments about which one of them was the greatest, and who would get the best seats around the throne of Christ in heaven. Jesus could see that they needed this lesson, and John wrote it all down so we could get the same lesson.
The disciples needed this because even though they were just students and followers now, they would soon be the leaders. In a few years, as the followers of Jesus grew by the thousands, these disciples would be looked up to by Christians all over the world as the ones who were actually with the Lord. That would be enough to give anyone a big head, and Jesus did not need any proud and arrogant apostles going around acting like big shots. He wanted servants who could love other people and treat them with respect. So Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, and then said to them: “I have set for you an example that you should do for others as I have done for you. You are not greater than me, so if I can wash your feet and if I can serve you, you ought to be more than willing to be a servant to others, even the lowliest men and women.”
Jesus set such an example of humble service not only there, but throughout his life. Jesus did not start his ministry until he was thirty years old. Before that, Jesus was a carpenter, in a small town, probably making tables and chairs and wooden implements to sell to the people of Nazareth. He would have been doing this to support himself and his widowed mother. A hundred years after Jesus lived, a third generation Christian leader, Justin Martyr, wrote that it was still common at that time to see farmers using plows made by the carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus spent most of his life engaged in manual labor.
This was not because he had to learn about the common life like the Prime Minister’s daughter in Thailand. Unlike her, Jesus was born and raised in humble circumstances. He knew all about common life. But by spending most of his life at manual labor, Jesus was giving a lesson for everyone, everywhere, about the dignity of common labor. It was what he himself did most of his life.
And by washing his disciples’ feet on the night before his death, he was teaching the dignity and importance of every day acts of service to others—in even the most humble and humiliating settings.
In John 13:17, the last verse of the account of Jesus washing the disciples feet, Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Mark 9:33b-35 — (Jesus) asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
John 13:14-17 — (Jesus said), “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Psalm 25:9 — He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
KEEP ME HUMBLE by Benjamin Anabaraonye
Lord keep me humble
So I may not stumble
Into the folly of pride
May I in wisdom abide.
May I always remember
That all of my members
All I am and all I have
Are all what You gave.
Lord keep me humble
That I may not stumble
May I learn what I ought
As through Your Word I’m taught.
Keep me humble I pray
Each and every day
Blessed with the right attitudes
Through life’s vicissitudes.
Humbly dependent on You
With a heart sincere and true
Acknowledging Your gifts of grace
Giving back my worship and praise.