Volunteering has gotten popular.
I mentioned that last week. Have you noticed that? Doesn’t it seem there’s no end to the opportunities to get involved with a church, faith-based organization, civic organizations, government, or international relief?
As disciples of Jesus, we must always analyze our motivations. Apart from the Lord, any service we’re doing is mainly done for how it makes us feel.
We feel good when we volunteer. But as Christians, there is so much more happening in our lives than just feeling good. Yes, we’ll feel good, but there’s so much more the Lord has available for us!
John 13 (which we started last week) marked a transition in the Gospel of John and the Earthly ministry of Jesus. In all the preparations for the Passover Meal, none of the Apostles had arranged for someone to wash everyone’s dirty feet. Do you need a reminder of how they were seated at the Last Supper? Click here.
Since the feet needed to be washed, Jesus picked up a towel and basin and got to work.
Then we read in John 13:12-17:
When he [Jesus] had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 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.John 13:12-17
New International Version
Jesus told them to follow His example and wash each other’s feet (verses 14 and 15). We could bring the literal practice of foot washing to our culture (and some Christian groups do!), but this practice is foreign to us. It may suggest responses today never intended in the original Biblical setting.
It was a regular part of society in their day for someone to wash their feet when they entered a house. It was the job of a servant, usually the lowest servant. Nevertheless, it had to be done because they walked around in open-toed shoes through dusty, dirty streets. Then and now, people don’t want dirt and grime tracked into their homes.
I mentioned this in last week’s post, but what Jesus did by washing their feet was not significant because their feet were washed, but because of the role He assumed by doing it. The Master and Teacher took the part of a servant—a low one at that.
Nearly every Sunday afternoon, I wash my wife’s SUV. It gets dirty and dusty and I know she enjoys a clean vehicle. For me, that’s normal, but if the President of the United States came and washed my wife’s SUV, it would be off-putting. It wouldn’t be shocking because the vehicle is dirty and needs cleaning, but expressly because he IS the president of the United States and it’s not his place to wash my wife’s SUV.
By telling us to “wash one another’s feet,” Jesus was commanding us to serve each other—to “out serve” each other. Yet, Jesus didn’t simply sit at a distance and command this. He certainly could have and had every right to do so. Instead, Jesus picked up the towel and basin and did it to show us that serving was not beneath Him.
If serving others isn’t beneath the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, then why would it ever be beneath us?
Jesus reminded the participants at the Last Supper and us today: “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” (verses 16 and 17).
We’re not cursed if we don’t serve. Jesus told us of a promise of a blessing in verse 17. If we do these things—serving the way Jesus did—we will be blessed by God! When we serve, we are putting action to our faith. We are demonstrating the genuineness of our faith. Even in our serving, we show the world we belong to Jesus because we give of ourselves as He did.
Friends, in the teaching of Jesus there is no division between head-understanding and life practice.
The blessing we’re promised is not just a “feel good” sensation. With Jesus, everything has eternal overtones. Jesus is talking about receiving a blessing from and in Heaven because we do as He did!
When you serve, are you doing it like Jesus? Are you giving of yourself because it needs to get done? Because you can fill the need you see? Because you’re setting an example for those you lead?
Why do we serve?
To be like Jesus.