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.John 13:1-5
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the 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 that was wrapped around him.
Jesus’s response to the knowledge that the Father had put all things under his power was to take the posture of a house servant and wash the disciples’ feet. In our culture, power often leads people to exalt themselves or to being exalted by others. Yet, with the knowledge of His supreme power at the forefront of this mind, Jesus goes low.
Jesus models for us a different kind of leadership. Jesus described this kind of Kingdom leadership when He taught the disciples, “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 many“(Mark 10:43-45).
This kind of leadership can only happen when we are secure in who we are. If we don’t know who we are in Christ, if we aren’t aware of the power and authority given to us as children of God, we’ll never be able to go this low. We’ll still be striving to prove ourselves. Or, we’ll be tempted to fight for our “rights.” Only when we see the fullness of our inheritance in Christ can we be strong enough and secure enough to wash the feet of those around us.
We can give ourselves way if we know there is always more in the Kingdom. When we posture ourselves to be continually receiving from the Lord, we can continually give things away. We can give love because we are loved. We can give grace because we daily live in a waterfall of grace. We can give away our resources knowing that God always has more for us. We can go low because we trust that it is the Father who lifts us up.
You see, it wasn’t that Jesus had to try to forget that “the Father had put all things under his power.” He didn’t have to try to put His own power out of His mind in order to be a servant. He wasn’t trying to be less than He was in order to achieve humility. It was the opposite. It was Jesus’s awareness of His immense power that allowed Him to take the low place and wash His disciples’ feet. It wasn’t a self-deprecating, false humility. It was real, authentic humility.
It was love.