“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” (John 13:3-5)
As a woman, I wish to point out that this is not the first instance of foot washing in the Bible. The most significant, surely, but not the first; for you will remember, I’m sure, the woman in Luke seven who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Her service was misunderstood, too, just as Jesus’ was on this occasion.
This kind of humble service, as exemplified in these two instances, is seldom seen today. In Jesus’ case, it was truly profound when one takes into consideration the majesty of the Servant. No doubt, this is why John was instructed to write that Jesus did not hesitate to perform this lowly task because knew exactly who He was, and why He was here. He was God when He raised the dead; and He was God when he stooped to wash dirty feet.
Sad to say, you and I are often too guarding of our own status to stoop to this type of ministry. But I think it was Andrew Murray who pointed out, “The lowliness of a work never lowers the person. The person honors and elevates the work, even to the most meager of services.” We would much rather have our deeds pointed out, praised, or put on a plaque. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet behind closed doors.
Jesus finished this lesson in humility by saying, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (v. 17). It isn’t good enough to know theoretically the blessedness of unassuming, unnoticed, even unpleasant, service to others. You must actually do them in order to reap the happiness they offer. And, yes, “happy” is exactly the right word. Those Christians who serve God and others from a heart of love, whether anyone sees them or not, are the happiest people I know.
Great services reveal our possibilities; small services reveal our character. — unknown