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The Text

John 13:3-5 ESV, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.”


The first action Christ performed when He knew the final events that would lead to His sacrificial death were set in motion, was to wash His disciples’ feet. He served those who would soon flee from His presence, even the one about to betray Him. His central mission here below was to serve and save (Matthew 20:28).

Footwashing was deemed too demeaning, so it was relegated the practice to bondservants. It was relegated to the lowest of low. No self-respecting Jew would stoop that low. Not even a disciple to his Rabbi.

Yet that was the very act the Son of God performed.

Appreciate the humility that thought should bring to us. It should affect our daily walk. He humbled Himself to serve in life and in death.

Christ performed a twofold action when He washed their feet. He implemented an example of service the church should emulate until He returns. And, He laid aside His garments to show a beautiful picture of humility in how He laid aside His glory and became incarnate. He washed His disciples’ feet as a preamble to washing away their sins by His blood.

As He washed the disciples’ feet clean, He washes our hearts clean from the stain of sin and death. His dirty hands to make the disciples’ feet clean served as a foretaste to the Cross – the ultimate act of sacrificial love (Romans 5:6-11). He became sin to make us righteous in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

He humbled Himself to clean the dirt and the grime from the very feet He formed. In life and death, He humbled Himself and now sits enthroned at the right hand of God in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20).


Are my hands calloused from bearing my brothers’ burdens? Are they fulfilling the law of Christ? (Galatians 6:2). Is the natural inclination of my heart attuned to my Savior’s?

We are more than willing to pray for our fellow brother or sister in need. But are we willing to also serve them by babysitting the child of a single mother needing to go to a job fair? Are we willing to walk through a tough diagnosis from a doctor, giving rides to and from doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, and surgeries? Are we willing to give rides to those without cars, a spare room to those without homes, or assistance in job searching for those without one?

Prayer is helpful, it is needed, as Luther said, it is like breathing for the Christian. And prayer should lead to action. When we pray that God would help the poor and hurting in our church and community, may we add, “God, please use me as an instrument to serve this brother or sister in Christ, all for Your glory.”

Christ’s final action before the Cross serves as an example and encouragement to all the saints, now and always. Follow in Paul’s footsteps as he followed in Christ’s (Galatians 5:13).

There are plenty of needy or hurting people in every church. Seek those members out and ask how you may serve them. And if you are one of those hurting or in need, simply ask, and you will be surprised at how many will walk beside and joyfully serve you with open arms.

Let’s get our work clothes on, roll up our sleeves, and get to serving one another in Christian love.

A Prayer

Lord, incline my heart to serve as You served and to love as You loved. Incline it to follow the two greatest commandments: to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others as myself.


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