“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” John 13:15
It’s time to clean up our act, time to become servants to the world, time to remember that the symbol of Christ’s kingdom is a towel.
Jesus dramatically illustrated this for us in John 13 when he washed the disciples’ feet. During the course of an evening meal Jesus noticed that no one’s feet had been cleaned. Perhaps the stench came to His attention. With everyone crowded into the room Jesus probably sniffed out the problem.
Now it was the custom in those days to wash the dust and dung off the feet of guests before reclining for dinner. Remember, people wore open sandals and would quickly be caked with the grit, grime and glaur along the footpaths and roads. In the absence of a hired foot washer the disciples had conveniently ignored the need to clean their feet. It was another sad display of their pride. No one wanted such a lowly task. Nobody wanted to be a servant. But not Jesus. He “made himself nothing” Philippians 2:7. He took the servant’s role. He actively chose to humble himself. He wasn’t born a servant, but He accepted servitude without malevolence.
In so doing Jesus illustrated a kingdom principle. The way up is down. Whoever wants to be first must be a servant (cf. Matthew 20:26-27). Whoever wants to be great must take up the towel.
Don’t be deceived. Like the disciples we’re all soiled, all tainted by pride. We “stink” with sin. Let’s not pretend we can’t smell anything. Every church has the unpleasant aroma of self-righteousness. Every Christian has the body odor of unholy attitudes. But Jesus wants us to smell different. He wants us to be “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” Ephesians 5:2. He wants us to take the basin and humbly wash one another’s feet. He wants us to pass out the towels.
So put your best foot forward and step into His world. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” Philippians 2:4-7.