After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded – John 13:5
Today, I watched the movie, The Gospel of John. Before Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover on the night before His crucifixion, He did something none of the others expected. Jesus got up from the table, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples’ feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing.
To say that the disciples were shocked would be an understatement. They probably felt uncomfortable too. This was their Master, their Lord, doing the work of a servant. Imagine Jesus, the Son of God, getting down on His knees to wash their dirty.
When the apostles got into an argument about which one of them was the greatest, Jesus told them, “Foreign kings order their people around, and powerful rulers call themselves everyone’s friends. But don’t be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant. Who do people think is the greatest, a person who is served or one who serves? Isn’t it the one who is served? But I have been with you as a servant” (Luke 22:25-27). Jesus was the greatest among them but He was a Servant to them. This isn’t surprising because He said of Himself, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Jesus explained to the disciples, “Whichever one of you is the most humble is the greatest” (Luke 9:48, CEV). Jesus demonstrated this when He washed their feet. Still, Peter didn’t understand and when it was his turn to get his feet washed, he asked, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (John 13:6)
Jesus answered, “You don’t really know what I am doing, but later you will understand” (Verse 7).
Peter’s response was, “You will never wash my feet!” (Verse 8)
And when Jesus told him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me,” Peter wanted Jesus to wash his feet, hands and head too. He went from one extreme to the next. That’s typical Peter.
When Jesus was done washing their feet, He explained why He did it. “Do you understand what I did for you? You call me ‘Teacher.’ And you call me ‘Lord.’ And this is right, because that is what I am. I am your Lord and Teacher. But I washed your feet. So you also should wash each other’s feet. I did this as an example for you. So you should serve each other just as I served you” (Verses 12-15, NKJV).
In God’s eyes, true greatness is found in humility and in the willingness to serve others just as Jesus did.