September 9, 2017
Scripture Reading – John 13-15
My heart is blessed to observe our “Divided United States” pulling together as neighbor helps and encourages neighbor throughout the State of Florida. With the exception of a few fringe anarchists, when lives are at risk the majority of Americans set aside political differences, come together and serve others.
Foot washing was a cultural practice in Jesus’ day as households in the first century lacked plumbing and running water. Wealthy citizens of towns and villages went to public baths to bathe and, after walking home on dusty streets, were met by a household servant who would wash their feet in a basin of water and dry them with a towel.
Carrying forward the theme of serving others, today’s scripture reading is John 13-15; however, I am limiting my focus to John 13:1-17 and the beautiful portrait of humility and love seen in our LORD washing the feet of His disciples. The setting of John 13 is the night Judas betrayed Jesus and His disciples deserted Him fleeing into the night.
Pride and a lack of humility prevented the disciples from taking up the task of washing the feet of the LORD or their peers. Rising from the Passover feast, Jesus took up a towel and began washing the feet of the disciples, among them Judas who had arranged to betray the LORD to His enemies that night (John 13:1-2). What an act of grace! It is one thing to stoop to wash the feet of another; however, to wash the feet of a traitor is grace (John 13:2, 11)!
Although an awkward moment, the disciples allowed Jesus to wash their feet. Peter, however, piously protested Jesus’ act of servitude (John 13:6-11).
John 13:14-15 – If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Consider three spiritual lessons in this brief devotional. The first is Salvation: Washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus Christ taught them He alone can forgive and spiritually cleanse sinners of sin. The disciples believed Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God; however, not all believed. Judas rejected Jesus Christ and his lack of faith forever damned his unbelieving soul (John 13:10-11).
Sanctification is the second spiritual lesson. Jesus washing the feet of His disciples reminds us that a believer needs daily cleaning from sin. The apostle John writes, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Our third spiritual lesson is that of Service—serving others (John 13:1, 5, 12-16). To bear a servant’s towel requires three things in my estimation. The first, “persevering love”. We read of the LORD, “…having loved his own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end [continually; to the uttermost]” (John 13:1).
The second requirement for those who earn a servant’s towel is “unpretentious humility”–Jesus “began to wash the disciples’ feet” – (John 13:5). Paul exhorted the believers in Philippi to follow Christ’s example of humility.
Philippians 2:5-7 – “Let this mind [attitude] be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God [possessing all the attributes of God], thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation [setting aside the glory and dignity that was His], and took upon him the form of a servant [slave], and was made in the likeness of men [became man]:”
Finally, to earn a servant’s towel requires “enduring commitment” to follow Jesus’ example. Jesus commanded His followers:
John 13:14-15 – If I then, your Lord and Master [teacher], have washed your feet; ye also ought [duty, obligation] to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Hillsdale family and friends, I do not know what trials Hurricane Irma may bring us in the next 48 hours; however, I close with a challenge for you to consider three characteristics of a servant:
The first, a servant is proactive and seeks opportunities to serve others.
The second, a servant meets needs others disregard.
The third, a servant serves when others falter.
The world will always make room for one more servant. Will you be that servant?
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith