Imagine coming home and finding Jesus there. He’s dressed in grubby clothes—the kind you wear to clean house. He’s in the bathroom cleaning away. The faucets sparkle. The toilet gleams and even has that blue water in it. The dirty towels are in the laundry, and Jesus is on his knees working on that stubborn soap scum in the tub. How would you feel? Awkward? Embarrassed? No doubt we would try to get Jesus to the living room where we could be good hosts. We would say, “Jesus, you are much too important to be doing this.”
Enter into the world of the upper room. It was customary for guests to have their feet washed. It was considered a servile job — a job left to slaves, children or an exceptionally submissive and dutiful wife. Would any of the Twelve do it? They probably wouldn’t have minded washing Jesus’ feet. But would the thought have occurred, “I’m just as important an apostle as everybody else—why should I wash their feet?”
Jesus laid aside his garment. Not only was he going to do the slave’s job, but he looked the part. The one who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped took on the very nature of a servant — a slave. Jesus washed their feet (John 13:1-17). Peter’s protest no doubt broke the awkward tension and captured other’s feelings. But protests aside, a necessary lesson was being taught.
Jesus is Lord and Teacher. If he could do this for them, then they should serve others. With a towel and a water basin, Jesus shattered our proud, self-importance—our clamoring for position. How can any of us ever say, “I’m too important to serve,” when our Lord washed feet.
David Lipscomb became editor of the Gospel Advocate in 1866 and started the Nashville Bible School in 1891, which later became Lipscomb University. In 1873, Nashville was faced with a cholera epidemic. The first case was reported on June 7th. Two weeks later the cases numbered 397. Likely hundreds died that summer. Lipscomb wrote in the midst of that crisis, “Every individual, white or black, that dies from the neglect and want of proper food and nursing is a reproach to the professors of the Christian religion in the vicinity of Nashville.” But he did more. He led young men into the slums “where they prepared wholesome food and cleaned the filth from the affected area” of cholera victims. Lipscomb nursed cholera victims because he served a Lord who washed feet.
You have heard it said, “Jesus saves.” How true and wonderful that is. But equally wondrous is the truth that Jesus serves, and so must we who follow Him.