In John 13, Jesus and the disciples are seated around a traditional middle eastern table. The table sits slightly above the ground, and everyone is on their side, leaning on their left elbow, on a pillow, as their feet sit behind them.
It’s here that Jesus is going to do something that will make them feel uncomfortable! The lesson He will teach them (and us) will be vital to our spiritual growth.
First, let’s go back a few days, to deduce the mindset of the disciples, as they are riding an emotional high. When they entered Jerusalem, people are cheering Jesus like a rock-star. His popularity is sky-rocketing.
Over the past ten days, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and stood up to the High Priest and Elders which caused more people to rally behind Him.
So as they are privately dining and reclining Jesus gets up and does the unthinkable. He grabs a basin, a vessel of water and one by one He washes their feet. We don’t know who He started with, but nothing is said, likely out of embarrassment until Jesus gets to Peter.
Foot washing was a cultural ritual. Usually, when someone entered your home, there would be a basin of water for you to wash your feet. But if your host wanted to honor you, they would assign someone, typically the lowest person in the home, to wash your feet. Under very rare and special circumstances the host might wash your feet.
What’s important to point out is that this foot washing takes place at the end of the meal, when it was customarily done when someone first enters the home. Maybe when the disciples entered the room because of all the buzz surrounding Jesus, they all felt too important and were waiting for someone less significant to come in and wash.
Like the disciples, are you caught up in your titles or the success of your latest achievement and missing the point of what your platforms are meant for as a follower of Jesus?
Everyone has a platform. Everyone has a level of influence. The increase or decrease of your influence/platform is not based on titles but on how well you serve even with your title.
The first point Jesus is making is that humility is not a task; it’s an attitude.
What are you not doing because you feel it’s below your title, social, educational or economic status? The question is not, who would you be without a title rather who will you be with one?
A title doesn’t define the person, you define the title. How is your serve?
Are you serving your spouse, your children, your brother or sister, co-workers, neighbor, friends or your church? Or are you looking for these to serve you?
At the heart of humility is love. You won’t serve whom you don’t love. Romans 12:10 teaches us to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
You don’t have to know someone well to show love. Love is a selfless act of helping someone because you can. You can’t meet every need, but you can help someone.
The second thing Jesus is teaching us has to do with repentance. Here He makes a theological statement concerning salvation and transformation.
Once you are forgiven, you are completely clean.
Jesus died once and for all. There is no need to be saved again, once you’ve been born-again. But your feet are going to get dirty along the way so they will need to be washed periodically. The goal of following Jesus isn’t perfection it’s transformation.
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9
We can’t cover up our sinful acts or desires; we need to confess and repent of them. By concealing our sin, we allow it to become a stronghold in life. Confession and repentance uproot those desires and behaviors, leading you to victory over them.
Are you concealing or are you confessing your sin? You can’t do both. God is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you! Only God can do that.
If you’re struggling with humility, it’s time to serve. To be a follower of Jesus is to be forgiven, live humbly and serve.