Jesus’ Seven Steps To Service

(John 13:1-5)


            Jesus is the perfect example of the humble servant and we would do well to follow His example in all things, especially where service to God and to others is concerned. In John 13, we see Jesus setting the example of service by washing the feet of His apostles.

             It was customary in homes of that period for the servant to wash the feet of guests to remove the dust. However, Christ had requested privacy for His supper and, consequently, no servant was present. The disciples were too proud to perform this menial task; therefore, the Lord took the basin and washed the feet of His disciples. Peter strongly objected to this act of humility. Christ responded to Peter’s question by implying that there is a deeper meaning in washing feet. As we should see, it wasn’t the act itself – it rarely is. It was the motivation behind it that was important. Notice the steps Jesus took in service to His fellow men.

1. He stood up. None of us can render much service while seated. Most service generally requires action and movement. Sitting back with our feet propped up rarely “cuts it.” The Great Commission (Mt. 28:19-20) commands us to “go.” Isaiah was ready to serve (Isa. 6:8).

2. Jesus laid aside His garments. He didn’t want them to get in the way. People often remove outer clothing (sport coat, shawl, etc.) when serving so as not to be hindered. ANYTHING that might hinder our service must be put off (Heb. 12:1; Eph. 4:31).

3. Jesus took a towel. Jesus had the proper tool for service. We must have the proper tools for service. A congregation in Baton Rouge, LA has hurricane kits for evacuees if needed. The greatest service we can render is the Great Commission of Christ (Mt. 28:19-20). In order to teach, we must study (II Tim. 2:15) and worship w/the saints (Heb. 10:25). The best tools we have are found in the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). The sword of the Spirit is what Jesus used against Satan (Mt. 4:11) and was victorious.

4. He girded Himself. He tied the towel around Himself and got busy. He tied it so He could use it easily and provide the best service. He put Himself into the service so His disciples would see His motivation was love (Mt. 7:12; Luke 10).

5. He poured water into a basin. Jesus needed the right element – water. The disciples may have watched in stunned silence, giving Peter time to ready his objection (Jn. 13:6). Jesus is King of Kings and no ordinary Master! (I Tim. 6:15). We also must have the right elements, or perhaps be in the right element. Not all can do every task in service to God (I Cor. 12:14-23). Note that water washed clean the disciples’ feet. It also washes us clean spiritually (I  Peter 3:20-21).

6. He began to wash the disciples’ feet. He took 5 actions before actually serving. He made sure He was ready, but didn’t spend so much time tending to other things that He never got around to serving (Luke 9:59-62). What a shame to prepare to serve, to want to serve, but never actually begin to serve!

7. He wiped the disciples’ feet using the towel with which He was girded. Did He have to? No. Could the disciples’ feet have “air-dried?” Of course, but Jesus taught and practiced “second mile religion” (Mt. 5:41). He continued to serve. Do we?

            I pray we’ll always remember the humble example of our Lord’s willingness to serve. He was the Son of God (Jn. 1:1). He had all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:18). He knew that He would return to His former glory and leave earthly life behind Him (Jn. 17:5). Even in light of all this, He was and is our perfect example of service. Are we following His example? Give it some thought.