“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
(Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 12:18, NIV)
It’s warm, in fact, it’s hot! He has been walking for days, in sandals, feet sweating, on dusty roads. The dust has caked his feet with a layer of grime, clearly showing where the sandal straps were after he takes them off. Now, would you like to clean his feet?
Most of you probably just wrinkled your nose, quickly saying no, and thinking, “I don’t want anywhere NEAR his stinky feet!” Many people in Jesus’s day had the same reaction. It was a necessary task that no one wanted to perform. Yet it was a task that had to be performed before a communal meal, which was taken on low couches, where people often reclined. Therefore, the task of cleaning feet often fell to the lowliest member of the household. It was a dirty, disgusting job.
3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (John 13:3-5, 14-16, NIV)
Everyone has their own idea as to what the word servant means. Generally, however, the idea of being a servant to others is not a favorable one. Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, Isaiah foretold of a man who would come to save all mankind. One of the many, many, words Isaiah used to describe this man was the word “servant.”
Jesus was a servant of His Father, the Lord God. Jesus served God. How does cleaning feet serve God? It sets an example for all who choose to follow Him. We must be willing to take on the tasks we view least desirable. We must serve others!
Jesus’s service to God did not begin and end with washing feet. Jesus served God in a multitude of ways, from ministering to others, to cleaning out the temple, to correcting the false teachings of Pharisees, to cleaning feet, to healing the sick and disabled, to dying on the cross. Being a servant can be achieved in many different ways.
Jesus calls us all to be servants, to serve God by serving others. Serving isn’t just actions. It doesn’t mean we should go around offering to clean everyone’s feet! Serving is an attitude. We cannot have an arrogant attitude, we cannot view ourselves as better than others. We must have a humble attitude. Serving others is not always physical actions. Pastors and church leaders serve by seeing to our spiritual needs. We can serve others by finding volunteer opportunities that involve doing something you enjoy.
So what does this mean for us? Check your attitude! Are you ready and willing to serve? Then spend some time in prayer, asking God how you can serve Him. Jesus spent many hours in prayer, seeking God’s direction for His service. We should do the same. How can you serve God? Only God can tell you!
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