As the disciples celebrated their last Passover, with Jesus, there seemed to be some confusion about what exactly it was that Jesus was about to do. They knew He planned to establish a kingdom, but they did not fully recognize what the nature of that kingdom would be. He had in mind a kingdom where all the citizens served each other and loved each other. A kingdom like that was hard to imagine then and it is equally difficult to grok today, but that is what Jesus had in mind.
In Luke 22:24-30 at this last Passover with Jesus, we read that there was some infighting among His disciples as to which of them would be the greatest in the new kingdom. Luke tells it this way.
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For
who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is
it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who
serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus explains to them that to be great in His new Kingdom, you must be willing to serve.
At the same meal, John tells us what Jesus did to demonstrate this kind of service. It breaks my heart every time I read it, but it is instructive as to how we in this new kingdom - the church - are to treat each other and to be with each other. John 13 tells us:
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 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.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 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. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
The Lord and Savior of all humanity bent the knee to His people and washed their feet. It was the job of the lowest servant in a household to wash the feet of visitors and strangers as they arrived. The middle east of Christ's time was a very dirty place and footwear did not do an adequate job in keeping the dirt off the feet. Here in John 13, we see Jesus taking the role of the lowest servant, washing the feet of his followers and then commanding them to serve each other in like manner. It was shortly after this, that Jesus served the entire world, offering Himself as the perfect human sacrifice before His Father in heaven to cleanse the many unwashed that did not yet know Him. It is the very foundation of His kingdom, The Church. Service and Love.
Brethren, we are to serve and love one another. It is even more important now, since the time is approaching. Let's love one another as He loves us. We are family. Let's do it.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”