This passage, as I see it, is the greatest example of Jesus’ humility. Contextually, it builds on yesterday’s reading in Luke, so I suggest rereading that passage along with this one. Following the Lord’s Supper, Jesus takes up a towel (an action typical of a servant) and begins to wash His disciples’ feet. This text is rich with lessons in Christian humility, and you will likely find more application here than I have room to expound on. Only consider a few of the major applications:

It takes humility to allow Jesus “work” on us. It seems counterintuitive that the Master of our lives would lower Himself to wash our feet. Like Peter, we would likely be quick to give reasons for why it should be the other way around. However, if we are to be cleansed, it will happen by the work of Christ. Don’t fight the Lord’s cleansing power.

Jesus washed everyone’s feet, even Judas’. What greater love is there than a willingness to wash the feet of the one who will betray you? Jesus didn’t pick favorites. Although He has His closest relationships with a few of the twelve apostles, Jesus is no respecter of persons among these when it came to this act. Surely a Lord who washes the feet of His own betrayer is the Savior and servant of all.

Go and do likewise. Essentially, Jesus calls His disciples to go and do for others what He’s just done for them. He also says that a blessing comes in following His way. Service is not just about helping people or doing good; it is about helping people in light of Christ Jesus’ cleansing work. It’s about helping people as disciples of Christ.

A servant is not greater than his master. This is the bold reminder of humility. He asks a question in 13:12, wondering if these men grasped the significance of His action. His point is clear in 13:16 that no servant/one that is sent (literally apostle) is greater than The master/one that sends him. Jesus’ work here would stand as a reminder for the apostles not only of His cleansing power, impartial love, and mentorship, but it also would stand as a reminder of their own individual place in the kingdom: under Christ. Boasting has no positive effect in kingdom work unless it’s about Christ.

Today I will…1. read and reread this passage, seeking to understand what Christ has done for me, 2. not discriminate when it comes to serving others above myself, and 3. hold in my heart the words of John 13:1,“…He loved them to the end.”