In verse three Jesus is described as “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands.” That is, all worldly power was within his grasp. Then, after making that amazing claim, we are told that Jesus grabbed a towel and began to wash the disciples’ feet. If you had all the power on earth, is foot washing the first thing you would do? If you had all the power in the world, is foot washing something you would ever do?
The passage begins in verse one by telling us that Jesus realized the time of his death was very near. This would be the last time he would be with all of his disciples before his death. This would be the last time they would gather and receive teaching and instruction from Jesus. So, what lesson would he teach them in this final meeting? He chooses to teach them the importance of washing feet; he teaches them the crucial lesson of humility and servanthood.
More than providing an example of using divine power in humble service to others, Jesus gives a very simple command to his disciples: “You also ought to wash one another’s feet… You should do as I have done to you.” The passage ends in verse 17 with the important phrase: “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” As followers of Christ we are all called to gird ourselves with a servant’s towel and live a life of sacrificial service. In that service of humility we will find the rich blessings of God.
Prayer: Lord, teach us the importance of not grabbing for power, but learning to give it away through humble service in your name. Amen.