A Servant’s Heart

John 13:12-14 WEB

So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? [13] You call me, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You say so correctly, for so I am. [14] If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.


Washing feet was a servant’s task. Religious and civic leaders did not wash their own feet. A servant washed their feet when they gathered. So, it was almost an offense to the 12 for Jesus to wash their feet. When he is done washing their feet, he puts his outer wrap back on and tells them to go and do likewise. This was probably an offense as well. The 12 thought they were going to rule the 12 tribes of Israel in eternity (Mt 19:28). It would not have been natural for them to take up feet washing. But that is what Jesus asked them to do. During Jesus’ ministry, he showed the example of servanthood. He was on a mission for His Father, and it required humility and service. Jesus did not mind.

Jesus wants us, his disciples, to feel the same way. We are to be mission-minded as we become servants to one another. Things are not so different today. When people imagine themselves having a large ministry, it is not natural to think about feet washing. But that is what Christians are called to do. We must bow our hearts before the Father in humility and willingness to serve as He served. That may mean washing feet, or it may mean taking that poor family to the food bank. There are many ways to serve.

Jesus served. He was the disciples’ Lord and Teacher. He is also our Lord and Teacher. We must not look at Jesus and say, “He was God, of course he could.” We must not use his Godhood as an excuse not to imitate Him. Rather we must say to ourselves, “the Lord and Teacher served both the lost and the saved. I must also serve.” When we serve, we are opening avenues to plead with others to be reconciled to God through Jesus. To the lost, that is salvation from eternity without God. To believers, it is encouragement in the Lord as we refresh one another.


Lord, please give me a heart for service. Help me recognize opportunities throughout my day to serve. Help me lay down my own interests and care for another’s interests. Help me trust you with myself and with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.