John: Day 17

Servant of All


Today's Text: John 13:1-38, Mark 9:35, Romans 3:21-26, Psalm 31:9-10

Text: John 13:1-38, Mark 9:35, Romans 3:21-26, Psalm 31:9-10

I’ve heard it said that suffering reveals the real you. What comes out of our mouths when life squeezes us in its vise grip is the stuff we’re really made of.

At the Last Supper, we find Jesus in the tightest situation imaginable. He knows unthinkable suffering is right around the corner. Since His disciples are still presuming He is going to lead a government takeover, it’s a burden He must carry alone. Jesus knows there will be no military coup. He will secure the Kingdom victory, but through suffering—not conquest.

In that crucible of suffering, the real Jesus shines through. We don’t catch one hint of self-pity or bitterness in His words or actions. He would soon be poured out on our behalf, yet Jesus remained faithful to who He is and what He came to do.

He never stopped teaching. Using bread and wine for an object lesson of cosmic consequences, Jesus taught truths in advance that His disciples would not grasp until He was gone (John 12:16). As modern Christ followers, we have access to this Upper Room as a classroom. We’re able to wrestle with the lessons of His atoning sacrifice every time we come to take communion.

He never stopped serving. Knowing that within hours His own would be nailed to a tree, Jesus took the time to wash His disciples’ feet. “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15). This moment wasn’t mere ritual. Jesus was showing them how to care for one another after He departed.

He never stopped loving. When I study the Last Supper, I am most grateful for this truth: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). To the end. Our Savior never stopped loving the undeserving, helpless sinners He came to die for. He never chose hatred or contempt. He didn’t shame or ostracize Judas, the one who would sell Him out for a few silver coins. Instead of pointing His finger at him, Jesus offered him bread.

When hard-pressed on every side, Jesus never resented the sacrifice He chose to make on our behalf. It was in His suffering that our Savior displayed His true strength.

“But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.”
- Isaiah 53:5


Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

  • This was so touching and emotional to read. I pray my heart is able to love others in the same way He loves us to the end.

  • By our love they will know we are Christians, not just in the good times but the hard, uneasy and unsure times, our love is our testimony of God’s goodness and grace in our life. Lord would you help me to love both you and people relentlessly.

  • This passage makes me reflect on what am I showing when life’s circumstances squeeze me. Do I behave as Jesus did, or do I resort to some other ways? I’ll definitely keep this in mind as I strive to live more like Him. Even when the trials of life weigh on me, I MUST strive to keep the mind, actions, and love of Christ.

  • Danya Ho

    When hard-pressed on every side, Jesus never resented the sacrifice He chose to make on our behalf. It was in His suffering that our Savior displayed His true strength.

  • Thank you, Jesus, for loving me until the end. For not giving up on me despite my selfish loser ways! Your life showed us how to love and how to serve the people you put it all on the line to save; your death gave us hope for a future of forever with you. We aren’t worthy of this devotion, but Lord that you would take hold of our lives and make us wholly devoted to serving others as we wait for the day when we’ll be forever with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Thank you Erin for this! I thought your discussion was on point and well said. God Bless!

  • Alexandria

    I love this! I taught he suffering servant prophecy from Isaiah the other week – I wish I had given them this portion of John the following day. God is truly amazing!

  • Loving this study!!! The thing that really stood out to me today…. well, actually there are two things… first, these verses:

    Psalm 31:9-10
    “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eye is wasted from grief;
    my soul and my body also.
    For my life is spent with sorrow,
    and my years with sighing;
    my strength fails because of my iniquity,
    and my bones waste away.”

    What spoke to me the most in those verses right now is in the last part of verse 10, “my strength fails because of my iniquity.” Some days I feel like I am so weak… I have the hardest time staying strong when faced with difficult situations, and I’m confident Satan has latched onto this fact, so he places just the right temptations in front of me to make sure I stay weak. But then I read a study like this, and I’m reminded, through these words, of Jesus’ steadfastness even in the midst of the most terrible suffering. “In that crucible of suffering, the real Jesus shines through. We don’t catch one hint of self-pity or bitterness in His words or actions. He would soon be poured out on our behalf, yet Jesus remained faithful to who He is and what He came to do.” That’s the other thing that stood out to me. Those words, “We don’t catch one hint of self-pity or bitterness in His words or actions.” Can I really grasp the magnitude of those words? He knew He was about to sacrifice His life on our behalf, and He didn’t have himself a good ol’ pity party… and yet, I face even the smallest inconvenience and it rocks my world. Father God, I want to be like Jesus!! When faced with circumstances beyond my control, I want to react with the knowledge that You are in control… You hold all things in Your hand, and You love me and You have a perfect plan for my life. Remind me of that daily, Lord, and remind me that You are with me and all I have to do is call out to You… for help, for peace, for grace and mercy, for strength… Thank you that Your Word tells us when we ask we will receive!!

  • Heather Fringer

    I loved how you reminded us that He never stopped teaching and He never stopped serving even though He knew that His life would be ending in a couple of hours.

  • Still catching up on my reading. Sorry I’m late to the party but I have to say that I was brought to tears this morning as I read this all too familiar passage. I could feel the heaviness. I know that when I am in a room where I know someone doesn’t care for me or has gossiped about me, the feelings are intense. The hurt is palpable. I could feel jesus’ hurt and yet, as so many of you have pointed out, he still loved and still served. What a great reminder. And I can only act in this love thru the transforming power of Jesus. It is his presence, the Holy Spirit moving, that makes that change and shows me how to do this. Thank you, Jesus, for your example! You are the Great Servant and Master Teacher.

  • Charise Walter

    “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God…”
    This spoke so powerfully to me, Jesus was so established in his identity, in what he was called to do and be. He walked towards his calling, showing us how to walk as disciples and children of God. He was able to do what he did because he knew who he was. There was no question of whether he “had the goods, did he hear right? What if I’ve got it wrong” the things I know hold me back. We have what Jesus had at his disposal, he promised us this further on in scripture…..I just forget and let my insecurities speak louder than his voice.

  • “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). To the end. Our Savior never stopped loving the undeserving, helpless sinners He came to die for. He never chose hatred or contempt. He didn’t shame or ostracize Judas, the one who would sell Him out for a few silver coins. Instead of pointing His finger at him, Jesus offered him bread.

    This morning before I even had a chance to read the Bible verses or the writing, God overwhelmed me with His presence and in that moment I was overcome with gratitude for a Savior that loves me despite my failures. As some have already commented, the timing of God is perfect and I love the way that he confirms truths he is speaking from different sources and different encounters throughout my day. Reading this it reminded me of my encounter with God this morning and how loved I feel when I know that he is speaking to ME…The “undeserving, helpless sinner”

  • This is a long post-sorry!
    I didn’t get up early enough this morning to do my Bible Study and devotional so I did it as soon as I got to work, before my day actually started. Wow! God’s timing is perfect isn’t it?

    Suffering reveals the real you. What comes out of our mouth when life is rough is the stuff we are really made of.

    So my earlier saying about God’s timing, well this morning I had just picked up my coffee cup from the Keurig and bam! dropped it to the floor. I got a burn on my arm but my son, my 2 year old son was in the floor playing so he got burns on his neck and arms. He screamed and cried, I cried because I knew the pain He was going through.
    I immediately forgot about my own pain and picked my son up to care for him.
    God is just like that! During the last supper, Jesus knew His near suffering but there was no self-pity there. He kept on teaching and loving!

    Back to the old saying-Suffering reveals the real you. The after moments, when everything was calm and Kreed and I had stopped crying I immediately told him, there must be a blessing coming our way! I have found new strength and faith here recently, since putting God first and isn’t it just amazing what a little Bible reading can do to your soul!

    Phil and I had a rough patch that we walked right through about 4 years ago-through a lot of praying and patience we got our answer-a positive answer. We are currently house hunting again but nothing has come on the market that we love. I know in God’s perfect timing the home He wants us to have will come our way.

    Whatever you may be going through, just hold on……if you truly and wholly believe, things will turn around for you. Just let go wholly, and wholly give it to God!!

  • Christina

    He never stopped loving. How convicting! I know when I find myself in a seemingly serious crunch at times, I get so focused on how to handle the impending “doom” that I don’t want to deal with the “petty” concerns (or lack of concerns) of others. I feel justified in pushing people away with no explanation, even if for a few short moments, in order to focus on the issue at hand. But Jesus knew that God had all of this in His hand, even if it wasn’t going to occur in a way that Jesus humanly liked. His ability to love in the face of death is a sure example of His faith and an encouragement to us as we face the unknown for His glory.

  • No man alive but Jesus could’ve chosen this for himself and not have been hateful, resentful, or smug about doing what Jesus did to save us all! When I think of the magnitude of what He did for us up on that cross, my head gets dizzy with fear, and then I’m greatly humbled by it all. I am so grateful that Jesus was the One…because we’d all be dead if we had to depend on one another! He’s never turned His back on us once, even though we still take Him to task today! Lord, please forgive me for taking you for granted, ignoring you, disrespecting you in my thoughts, words, and actions. Please forgive my inequities and my digression, and lift up my eyes to never forget what You’ve gone through to get us all here. Amen.

  • Katherine

    If you could lift up a situation that I’m dealing with at work. I am praying for the Lord to replace
    “hearts of stone with hearts of flesh” in my middle school students. Only the Lord can make this change in them, and the need is great. His is able to do more than we are even able to comprehend!

    • Ginger

      Amen, sister…Amen! Our children these days in general are more hardened than the adults in this world! I’m praying…

    • Justine Fern

      praying for you Katherine! the Lord is in the business of changing hearts and I know He loves when our prayers match His will for our lives! praying you are able share Jesus in tangible ways at school. and also praying this weekend would give you rest and time to ready your heart for next week.

  • Wow!! Erin, these are great thoughts!! I love how Jesus loved and served under the most intense pressure. Even on the cross we see him caring for his mother, forgiving the ones torturing him. You have pointed me again to the depths of His goodness. Well written!!

  • Jesus, thank you for this example of suffering. I confess to not believing that you can understand my own, but You do, because You bore the worst of it when You died for my sins. Draw close today, and help my heart and mind to accept and believe this truth.

  • Caroline

    I couldn’t agree more. I am so thankful for the suffering as it refines us to be more like HIM!

  • What I find most difficult in changing is how I feel inside. I may not act out, or shout, or visibly get angry, but inside I can be. Jesus did not even do this!

    • Denise

      I have that very same problem. It is all deep down inside and I am guilty of being a white-washed sepulcher. But the difference between me and the Pharisees is that I believe that Christ is the Savior and by His death, burial and ressurection my sins are forgiven and I am made white as snow. Over and over again. I repent, I sin. I repent , I sin. As Paul said – I do not do what I want to do and I do what I don’t want to do. Thank you Lord Jesus for loving me when I am unloveable and for forgiving me 70 times 7 and beyond. Your mercy and grace redeem me

  • When Jesus was under severe stress and worry, unable to share his concerns with any of the disciples, he STILL acted in love and tried to teach his disciples more about who he was and what he was about to do. Lord, I pray that, despite the pressures and stressors of my current life, I will act in love. That I will speak with kindness and not with harshness. That I will think before I speak. I verbally process to think through things, and may be hurting those around me with my harsh words, even though I am trying to be honest with myself. I pray that you would still allow me an outlet to process, but that I would speak true and whole words, not just my incomplete ramblings. I pray that my heart would respond with love. Amen.

    • Christine Marie


    • Katherine

      Yes Lord, help us to learn from your example of quiet Servanthood even in your darkest days. Of loving and showing grace even to those you knew would turn on you. Check our hearts and thoughts Lord that we may bring grace not shame to our own Judas moments.

    • Liz C


  • When pressed and pushed his true self shined. I think what I do is remain calm and look for answers. I am a problem solver but I do get short with people as well. Lord help me understand how to remove the shortness when I get pressed and pushed. Make me more like Jesus! Amen!

  • Diane Huntsman

    The reason I love the gospels so much is due to the fact we get to see Jesus up close and oh so personal.. we get to read His Very words and see His Very reactions..I’ve been a believer for well over 40 years and each time I study one of the gospels I see my deficits in new lights.. I see how truly far I am from resembling Him in the ways I should.. it humbles me and shames me to be sure.. but His grace is also so evident.. He loves me and accepts me because of the cross He endured for me.. He knew I would never measure up so He loved me to death and gave me hope in what He did on my behalf.. I could wallow in my deficits or I could revel in His victory… I think I’ll choose the reveling.. for His victory and love blot out all my failures and messes.. praise be to Him forever and ever amen!!

  • I read this as the sun was rising this morning. Lots of emotions run through me. But most of all I feel so much love. Lord, let me share that love in all I do today. Amen.

  • Keri McCue

    I have always loved that even when Jesus knew what He was about to face, He still served. He put His own pain aside and took time to love and serve those around Him. This is the passage I come back to again and again to remind myself that even when I am hurting or need comfort, I should still serve. And I find that in serving others, God gives me the peace I seek.

    • Mari

      Keri, Totally agree when your hurting that’s best time to serve others. Someone once told me that a long time ago. It takes my mind off myself and onto others.

    • Sarah

      This is great advice!

  • Such a good reminder, and one that is especially relevant in my own personal life today. It is a reminder to release to God the bitterness, hurt, and resentment that arise from broken relationships between us broken human beings and walk uprightly in freedom and integrity. Thanks love <3

  • Katalina

    Such a beautiful reminder of just how much He loves us. I pray this year God teaches me how to love like Him. It’s hard because there’s many who are undeserving…. yet I was one of those for Him and He still loved me.

  • Tochi Heredia

    It struck me today how different is Jesus’s response to suffering than the one the world tells us to have.
    We’re told to take care of ourselves first, to focus on our needs and to filter everything through our pain.
    I’m not saying we should neglect ourselves, but Jesus, knowing and feeling in his heart what was about to come, he focused on his Father, on his friends, on the purpose of his suffering.
    When I face betrayal, uncertainty and pain, I’m resentful and I shut people out. Christ decided to focus on the Father’s will in the midst of it, and love them anyways.
    When I’m in pain, I feel that my comfort and well-being is all that matters. Christ saw what that suffering would attain.

    God, help me to be more like Jesus.

  • churchmouse

    A foot washing service is the tradition of a church (Church of God, Anderson, IN) I attended. It is on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. It is one of my favorite and most profound services. Women meet separately to kneel down before other sisters in Christ to humbly wash their feet. The men, in a separate room, do the same. To replicate Christ’s actions is a sacred time for the soul. It unifies the local body of believers in an atmosphere of humility and forgiveness. It is a call to action to do the same beyond that room. I encourage you to seek out a church that offers this, suggest it for your own church to implement or even do this in your home or with your small group. Michael Card’s “The Basin and The Towel” is a good song for meditation. The quiet and the focus take you deep into the servanthood to which we are all called.

  • I have read this story half a dozen times but this morning different pieces stuck out to me. John 13:1 says, “Having loved HIS OWN who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Not only is Jesus loving the underserving and those who betray him, but he is claiming us as his own. I always find characteristics like this so amazing because not one person on earth could do what Jesus does. He is the only one with the heart of forgiveness and love that would want to claim someone like me after the sins I have committed. John 13:15 says, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Jesus is setting an example for us. We should love the undeserving until the end, because we are among those, “there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22b-23). God thank you for speaking out to me today, for showing me that you came as a Teacher. Help me to share the good news and move forward today with a heart that overflows with love. Amen.

    • Ellen


    • Laura Andersen

      Verse 1 also stood out to me! In my translation (Amplified), it reads: “He had loved those who were his own in the world, He loved them to the last and to the highest degree.” Jesus’ love was a pure and true love, a sacrificial love. He couldn’t have loved better during His time on earth. Very humbling when vs. 34 says, “Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.” I’m praying that I can love my friends, family, students, and strangers better than I ever have before by serving and sacrificing for them.

  • Sarah_Joy

    “…having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
    He loved them, loved us. To the end of our sin, to the end of his suffering, to the end of his earthly life, to the end. And he loved perfectly. He loves. He loves me. He loves you. No love can compare.

  • Beautifully said, B.

  • There are so many times I am at the table with Christ thinking He is speaking one thing to me, just as His disciples thought a coup, my mind may lead me away from what is right in front of me. In truth, there are moments, in prayer, I have already made the decision up in my mind, I’ve decided how *I* want it to go, that I inadvertently twist the Holy Spirit’s leading to fit my own personal will and like the twelve, I sit afterwards, stupefied by my own tendencies and negligence to see what was right in front of me. While it is comforting to know that even those who sat at the actual table with Christ didn’t actually *hear* what He was saying, that they are no different than I, it is distressing to imagine Christ kneeling before me, lifting my dirty, rough feet in His hands, pouring water over them and lovingly taking the towel from His waist to gently dry the very toes that tend to walk away from Him. And yet, the image serves to humble me in a way that few other things, short of the cross, can. Too many times, I am like the disciples, thinking too much about the “who’s” and too little about the “me’s”. I desire that my heart be so on the edge of my seat for Christ that my heart not only hears every word, understands their meaning but also hurts at the thought that it was me. That I was Judas, I was Peter … that I *am* Judas, I *am* Peter. That my eyes quit looking around the room to see who is worse, to call out the infractions of others and instead that my eyes lower to see Christ kneeling before *me*, washing *my* feet. That my focus remain on the One who served me at my worst and who continues to still when I trip. That I may put away my wants and desires and accept what the Holy Spirit is leading. That I may show love to those who hurt me, that I may humble myself before them and offer grace.

    • Sarah_Joy


    • Kelsie


    • Brandi


    • Ellen

      So beautifully said, and so convicting!
      Thank you for your words and may they be the prayer of my heart this morning!!

    • Karen

      Wise words to reflect on today. Thank you for sharing them with us.

    • anne

      Betsy you have put into words my thoughts in a way I couldn’t. I find myself wanting to hear Jesus and at the same time either getting ahead of Him, not taking the time to listen or just being too caught up in looking at others as you said. So thankful God loves us with patience and forgiveness that never changes.

    • Laura Andersen

      This is great! Thank you!

    • Janet

      Beautiful! Never thought of this like this before but how appropriate and true.

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      Praying right along with you this morning B…..thank you for putting the prayer of my heart into words this morning….love and hugs!

    • Jet

      Beautifully said, thank you for this this morning!

    • Sal

      Thank you for saying,what my heart couldn’t.

    • Candy

      Thank you for putting in words what my heart needs!

    • Christine Marie

      Wow so good. This will be my prayer today. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    • Cecelia

      Yes and amen.

    • Leslie

      Wow! Your words resonate. I am convicted and pray along with you. Thank you.

  • Father, forgive me for taking advantage of the punishment You took for me. How can I neglect the Peace You have so freely given? This Peace sets me free! Thank You, thank You, thank You!

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