The disciples sat there, the stench of their feet filling the room. Who was going to give in first and serve? Why was there no one there to wash their feet in the first place? They were hungry. They wanted to eat. Who was going to show the others they were inferior?
What happened next shocked them and showed them true greatness. What happened next led them to experience the presence of God.
John writes that, “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God”
He knew who he was. He knew the power and authority that he had, so what did he do?
“…so he got up from his meal, took off his outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing around him.”
“Then Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness.” -Richard Foster
Jesus, in the moment of the greatest recognition of his power, leverages it for the good of the people in the room. At the pinnacle of his power, he sheds his robe, the symbol of his authority as a rabbi, and humbles himself. He serves.
Our 4th exercise that will help us to experience God’s presence is Serving…
Serving others is a non-negotiable for followers of Jesus. If you follow Jesus you serve.
Richard Foster writes, “Service enables us to say “No!” to the world’s games of promotion and authority. It abolishes our need (and desire) for a “pecking order.”
So does that mean that we should all be welcome and not have any leaders or those in authority over us. Absolutely not!
Foster continues “…The point is not that we are to do away with all sense of leadership and authority… Even among Jesus and the disciples, leadership and authority are seen easily. The point is that Jesus completely redefined leadership and rearranged the lines of authority. Jesus never taught that everyone had equal authority…The authority of which he spoke was not an authority to manipulate and control. It was an authority of function, not of status.”
“Service is not a list of things that we do, though in it we discover things to do. It is not a code of ethics, but a way of living. It is one thing to act like a servant; it is quite another to be a servant.”
What does service look like for you today? How does this work practically?
…Embrace the ministry of the towel? And recognise that nobody is too good to perform the lowliest task.
…Embrace the ministry of the mundane. And become actively helpful no matter how menial the task.
…Embrace the ministry of being interrupted. And look to the good of others, even when it’s inconvenient.
…Embrace the ministry of hidden service. Doing things for others and nobody seeing you, except God!
…Embrace the ministry of asking “How can I help you?”
Finally Foster writes that , “Service that is motivated by duty breathes death. Service that flows out of our inward person is life, and joy, and peace. The risen Christ beckons us to the ministry of the towel.”
Today, why not pray, “Lord please bring me someone today, whom I can serve.”
For more on this visit this 1983 article by Richard Foster here of his book, Celebration of Discipline.