God on His Knees

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It’s a scene often described to us. It’s an example we are told to follow. But how often do we stop to think about why Peter felt the horror he did when Jesus bent down to wash the disciples’ feet.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1)

In the hustle and bustle of the Passover preparations, apparently no one thought to look after the custom of washing the feet of the guests as they entered for the meal. It would have been proper for one of the disciples to at least wash the Rabbi’s feet. But, it seems, no one did.

So when Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, wrapped himself in a towel, filled a basin with water and knelt on the floor to wash His disciples’ feet, they should have been appalled. We have no record that anyone jumped up to take His place, or objected—except Peter.

We understand the lesson, but doesn’t it boggle the mind to think that the Lord of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of everything, the Saviour of the world, the Son of God, and God Himself, is wrapped in a towel and washing feet like a common slave?

It’s as mind-blowing as God born in a cattle shed.

Jesus could have ordered one of the disciples to do the job. After all, isn’t that a principle of leadership training—give instructions on how it OUGHT to be done and then command that it BE done? But the Lord had been very specific about how “masters” were to behave. In Mark 10, during a discussion about who would sit at Jesus’ right and left hand in His kingdom, the Lord said: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for all” (Mark 10:42-45).

The first verse of John 13 says that by this act, Jesus “showed them the full extent of his love.”

When God gets down on His knees to wash your feet, you KNOW that He loves you. How then will we know that those in authority over us really care about us? It will not be by what they demand of us, but by just how far they are willing to go to “wash our feet” and be that example.


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