Jesus Displays His Love

Open Your Bible

John 13:1-38, Isaiah 42:1, Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:5-11

Teresa lived a simple life. Simmer the soup. Scrub the dishes. Hug a leper. She probably started out not imagining choosing a life of poverty and service among the poorest of the poor would turn into a world-wide religious organization. She simply served.

I think Mother Teresa’s commitment to humble service might be the essence of what Jesus taught His disciples in the upper room during the last meal before He offered His life (John 13). He took off His outer garment, grabbed a towel and basin of water, and wiped the disciples’ feet—muddy, crusty, sweaty, hairy, calloused feet—until they glistened.

Our Lord pushed his fingers in between toes to wipe away layered road refuse. Of course, Peter rebuffed the Lord washing his feet (we might too). The King of Glory soiled His hands with a task so beneath the disciples, that none of the Jesus-followers offered to wash each other before the meal. The disciples wanted positions in heaven (Luke 22:24–30), Jesus showed them the true position of the heavenly-minded.

And then Jesus told the disciples to do likewise to one another (John 13:12–17). He chose to teach humble service in His last mentorship session before His betrayal. This is like a deathbed example: love each other by serving one another humbly. 

But He didn’t just tell them—He showed them to what extent they are to love one another: to the end of life itself (Philippians 2:6–8, Mark 10:45). The power of the gospel displayed in Jesus’s death, resurrection and ascension brings justice to the nations (Isaiah 42:1) through the sacrificial service of His people. He is the greatest worldwide movement of all time. 

But humbly serving our brothers and sisters in Christ—hurts sometimes. People gossip. Betray. Lobby. Judge. How can we humbly serve believers when everything in us wants to stand our ground? 

Jesus saw the sinner disciples seated at His table, but picked up the towel and the basin anyway. He plunged the cloth into the muddy water and washed the feet of Denying Peter, Doubting Thomas, and Betraying Judas. He knew they would run at His arrest (Matthew 26:56)—hide in fear after His death (John 20:19). But He humbled Himself anyway. Served anyway.

How we love our brothers and sisters in Christ may look different for each of us as we obey the Spirit’s leading. For me, right now it looks like not splurging on the new outfit so our family can support a missionary. It means holding my tongue when I want to gossip about someone at church. It looks like sacrificing an afternoon of needed chores to visit an elderly church member.

I’m not doing this perfectly, but maybe Eugene H. Peterson said it best when he said the Christian life is “long obedience in the same direction.” Whether in the slums of Kolkata or the ‘burbs in Indiana, I think Jesus’s example to the twelve belongs to us as well. Love one another through humble service—to the end. 

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59 thoughts on "Jesus Displays His Love"

  1. Monie Mag says:

    Good morning sisters, anything we do for each another that washes away the grime of the world, the stains of sin, the dust of defeat, discouragement, loneliness and self-loathing is footwashing. This is to be the pattern of our life to follow Jesus’ example. I pray Holy Spirit for your help that this would be the pattern of my life.

  2. Lisa May says:

    I think it’s important to pay attention to how the biblical authors—especially John—arrange the order of their stories. Notice the foot-washing account does not begin until John has pointed out Judas’ pending betrayal: “Now when it was time for supper, the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray him” (V. 2). Then Jesus begins washing their feet, but in v. 11 we get the reminder, “For he knew who would betray him. This is why he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’” After He finishes washing their feet and explains what He has been doing, we get a subtle reminder in verses 18-20—“The one who eats my bread has raised his heel against me.” Then Jesus comes right out and says it in verse 21: “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me,” and by verse 27, Satan has entered into Judas.
    The point of recounting all this is to see that John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wants us to see that the revealing of the betrayer and the foot washing are bound up together as one story. Without even directly telling us, John has made it clear that Jesus washed Judas’ feet also, even as He knew that Satan was about to enter this man. Jesus washed His enemy’s feet. Matthew and Luke are careful to record Jesus’ words about loving your enemies in their Gospels. In John’s gospel, he is careful to SHOW us how Jesus loved His enemies. I am left wondering if John is trying to say something about Judas’ heart here? Was Jesus’ enemy-love and humility the thing that Judas absolutely could not put up with that helped Judas decide that this was the time to betray Him?
    I find the contrast striking to follow the author John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writing about Judas, inspired in his heart by the devil.

  3. Lexi B says:

    Tina, I loved your story about Efusa. So beautiful.

    Adrienne, I felt the same way about Judas. To sit with Jesus and know in your heart that you were about to betray him…

    And Jesus, choosing to keep Peter, Judas and the rest of his disciples in his circle knowing they would run away from fear, deny and betray Him. It blows my mind, and also humbles me…I’m a sinner; but still Jesus wants me. Knowing my faults- my distraction, returning to old sins, selfishness, impatience, doubt- He still wants me. I am so thankful that Jesus gives me grace. I would be no where without it.

    Ladies I need your prayers today. Last night, while rushing around my apartment, I stubbed my 4th toe pretty bad. I wrapped, iced, and elevated it. This morning tho, I can barely walk on it without significant pain. Praying that it is not badly broken, that I can get in to see the doctors quickly and that it heals well. I am starting an adventure business and need my feet! Thank you.

  4. Allison Bentley says:

    9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” – John 13:9 Simon Peter was ready with his outward profession but was he ready with his inward profession? How many times am I the one ready to be “dunked” not really grasping what I’m doing or why! Lord help me to serve others !!

  5. Allison Bentley says:

    9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” – John 13:9

  6. Sky Hilton says:

    Good morning sisters!

    “Truly I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who sent him.”

    So many people like to think they are better than others… but all are equal in the eyes of God

  7. Abby D says:

    @Grammiesue @KarenS – praying for you and your loved ones. May God give you strength, peace and encouragement. May he surround you with believers for earthly support. Amen!

  8. Suezi Gurzi says:

    Praying for you today, Karen. I watched my Mom handle the same situation with my Grandma. I pray you see God’s hand in every decision you make and you and your family have a peace you know can only come from God!