I had the chance this past week to spend some time with my oldest daughter at her college in Lakeland, Florida. The photo above is a statue that is on the campus there that depicts Jesus washing the Apostle Peter’s feet. I was really moved moved by this depiction. It is easy to forget that Jesus existed in real relationships in real time with men and women just like myself. The whole account of the foot washing is contained in John in 13:1-20. After reading it, I have highlighted verses 12-17.
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
It is important to catch what Jesus is teaching here. Staring at the statue last week I was humbled at how Jesus who is Lord of all was deliberate to lead through service. So often in our culture we are taught that we lead by strength and by power and by being authoritative, yet here we have Jesus on his knees washing the dirty feet of those who rightfully worshipped him. This is quite a contrast to the modern day culture of making sure those who lead are recognized to be at the top and are most esteemed and most rewarded with perks and benefits.
Most of us are leaders in some way. We have a group of folks that we directly guide or influence. How are we leading? I know I am guilty from time to time of feeling entitled in my leadership. In my mind, I will say “well I have worked hard to achieve A, so these folks should respect that and do my bidding or give me honor”. This is wrong and unbiblical. Jesus words are stinging “a servant is not greater than his master” and “nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him”. Jesus is teaching us that ultimately we are just servants and messengers and while we are striving to be like the master and the message sender those titles and the honor and glory they demand is reserved for Him.
So what is the application?
For me the application is be more mindful of serving those who God has given me influence over. I think like everything else post conversion I have be diligent to discern whether my actions are honoring God. I have to seek the Lord in the Bible and compare how I am living to the example that He laid out during His time on the Earth. Just writing this post I am reminded of my own desires for honor and esteem. It is so challenging sometimes to comprehend Jesus’ servitude. It is counter to how we naturally operate. Ultimately, we are to honor God by doing the things Jesus has taught us to do. It starts with serving others.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the Scripture. Thank you Lord Jesus, that you have laid out examples of what it means to lead and to be in relationship with others. Forgive me where I fallen short. I pray for the guidance and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to emulate your examples. Father, thank you for your many blessings. I offer you praise. In Jesus name, Amen.