John 13:1-5; 12a: The drama of salvation.
“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.” NIV
Many years ago, I read in a book by the leading evangelical Anglican rector, John Stott, that there is a strong parallel with Philippians 2:5-11 at this point in John 13. Jesus ”got up from the meal”, just as He got up from His heavenly throne. He ”took off his outer clothing”, just as He divested Himself of His heavenly glory. Then He ”wrapped a towel round his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him.” This reminds us how Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, ”emptied himself”; He made himself of ”no reputation”. He took ”the very nature of a servant” and ”humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” He did all this to wash our souls, to cleanse us from sin. ”This is our God, the servant King.” This is what God is like, and ‘He calls us now to follow him; to bring our lives as a daily offering, of service to the servant King’ (12-17).
So the drama of salvation is beautifully painted in this breathtaking scene, including His exaltation to the highest place (12/ Philippians 2:9-11).
If we cannot marvel at these truths, I wonder if anything will ever cause us to wonder. But we must go beyond standing and staring at the glory. This has to make a difference in our daily lives and relationships (12-17). We are called by Jesus to emulate Jesus, and we need to believe that anything He asks of us He will also enable. Such a life may seem beyond you. In fact, if you feel that, you probably do have some understanding of what the Master is requiring. But you also need to be sure that He will equip you to follow in His steps.
Whatever the truth you are being shown, it is in the doing of it that you will find the blessing (17).
”So let us learn how to serve, and in our lives enthrone him; each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving.’ Graham Kendrick.