"If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." John 13:14
Serving, an art that seems to be going out of fashion however, one can question whether it was ever in fashion. We currently live in a time where the vast majority of us instinctively put our own needs and wants above others. However, as believers, it shouldn’t be this way. Serving can be defined as “the action of helping or doing work for someone”. I would like to add that service should also be done selflessly, where the server has no intention of receiving anything from their act/s. The Bible tells us that service is one of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:5), which means there are those among us whom to serve comes naturally. My encouragement to those of you where that is the case, is to nurture that gift and never see it as insignificant to any other gift, as all too often within the body of Christ we create a hierarchy of gifts, with service being somewhere near the bottom, which sums up our generations current attitude to serving.
Those of you who follow the Western Christian liturgical calendar will know that today is Maundy Thursday, also known as “Holy Thursday,” the Thursday of Passion Week, the day before Good Friday. There are two important events which make up the focus of Maundy Thursday. They are the Last Supper and Jesus washing His disciple’s feet. For today’s article, we will be focusing on the latter.
When we read John 13, we come across a dialogue between Jesus and Peter where Peter is adamant that Jesus will not be the one to wash his feet. It is important to add at this point that washing people’s feet as they entered your house and before and after a meal was a custom that was familiar at the time. This was due to the amount of sand/dusk that would have been caught in people’s shoes/sandals before they entered someone’s home and whilst they ate at a table, which would have been low to ground. For those of you who have been to the Middle East or North Africa, think of a Bedouin tent. For this reason, the respectful thing to do was to have your feet washed on entry and before and after a meal. This was something that normally would have been carried out by the servant in the home, however, this time Jesus decides to assume responsibility to teach his disciples a lesson, which was that serving is not above anybody and that if the Son of God can serve, so can we.
This wasn’t the first time Jesus challenged his disciples’ attitude to serve. In Mark 10:35-45, Jesus initially reminds James and John and then the rest of the disciples of the importance of serving, rather than being served, as their status as Jesus’ disciples and their newfound knowledge of what that meant began to get to their head. Just like the disciples, our salvation is secure due to the work of Christ on The Cross, therefore we should delight in serving others, in the same way, Christ delighted in serving us Hebrews 12:2. Our service offers an opportunity for those around us to come to the revelation of who Jesus is and the extent of the love He has for them. The climate we are currently in presents to us the perfect opportunity to serve and to serve well.
Take this time to reflect. Where are the areas of your life where you know you need to serve better? Who are the individuals that you are doing a disservice to because of your lack of service? It is my prayer, that amongst all that is happening and in this season of Easter we would seek opportunities to serve our communities, not for what we can get, but simply to follow the example that has been set by our Lord. As Christian’s, we are called to be like Him who has saved us through His sacrifice and act of service. One of the greatest things about the first Maundy Thursday would have been that it's likely that the disciples left the upper room thinking that the greatest act of service that night, was Jesus washing their feet, not realising the significance of the meal He instituted. Therefore, as we know better due to being privileged to know how the story ends, let's be willing to put aside our preferences, choices and wishes, to meet the needs and wants of those around us. True serving isn’t easy. It takes, patience, kindness, self-control and love. My encouragement to you is to take up your cross, serve well and see the salvation of the Lord manifest in your life.