This passage of Scripture might be a familiar passage, recording when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. But maybe it’s new to you. Either way, there’s something about reading the Word of God with fresh eyes to see what God is saying through the Word.

Just before this event, Jesus gave His last public message, some of His final words to the crowds that had followed Him. But then, He drew away with His disciples in a private room, away from the crowds, away from distractions. I find myself wondering what it must have been like to sit in the room, observing and listening. 

In those moments, Jesus focused on His disciples. It was some of His final moments to leave them with words and an example they would vividly recall in the days to come. It’s the final time He gathered them together to instruct and teach them. John 13:1 says, “Jesus knew that his time had come . . . having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end.”

Jesus knew His time had come to fulfill the very reason He had been sent by the Father. He had an understanding of His place in time, and He was faithful to His call and to the people He was called to serve to the very end.

We have the benefit of seeing Jesus’s example and hearing His words in hindsight, but if we were hearing the words afresh, I wonder if we would understand the magnitude of His heart, His love, His urgency to convey the importance to accept His words, accept His love, accept Him, and to fully receive everything He would lay down His life to give: forgiveness, mercy, salvation, love.

So what Jesus did was demonstrate His heart for His disciples in a way that would vividly stick in their minds of what it looks like to follow His example of serving others with a selfless love. 

Jesus took up a basin of water, attached a towel to His waist, and began to bow low, attending to the disciples’ feet. He went one by one, ministering to each of them, washing their feet, and drying them with the towel.

This action from Jesus, as someone they looked up to, their mentor, their teacher, the Messiah, now looking up at them as He washed and dried their dirty feet must have caused the room to fall to a hush. Seeing Him take on the role of a servant, of humbling Himself when it should have been the other way around, it was too much for them to take in. And He understood it. Jesus replied, “You do not understand what I am doing now, but you will understand after these things” (John 13:7).

Jesus knew that not all would understand what He was doing or saying, but He remained obedient to His call anyway. He tells them, “For I have given you an example—you should do just as I have done for you . . . If you understand these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:15, 17)

When Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, it was an outward action that conveyed His deep love for them. He knew that in the days to come, this simple act of bowing low to wash their feet would come to their remembrance when they understood that it was a representation of how He would lay down His life for them. And instead of only washing their feet with water, He would lay down His life so that everyone who accepts Him could be forgiven, washed from every stain of sin, from the inside out by the blood He would shed. They didn’t fully understand it then, but in the days to follow, they would.

In those final moments, He knew once they realized all He had done, both in the washing of their feet, all the way to laying His life down at the cross, they would know that everything He said, everything He did, had been to show to the world that Jesus is who He said He was: Son of God, Savior, Messiah, Lord. 

He said to the disciples in John 13:20, “I tell you the solemn truth, whoever accepts the one I send accepts me, and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

To be a follower of Christ is to live and serve and love as He did, following His example and accepting His Word as the truth. And when we do, we become a reflection of His love as we serve others in His name, so that they, too, will accept His words, accept His love, accept Him, and fully receive everything He would lay down His life to give. Forgiveness. Mercy. Salvation. Love.

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Andrea Howey

Andrea Howey

Andrea Howey is a hand lettering artist in Dallas, Texas. She started hand lettering Scripture and encouraging words during a season of loss and God began to use it as a means to minister encouragement to people around the world through social media. Today, she continues to create hand lettered words and goods for her business, as well as freelance work for ministries, authors, and other projects, all with the aim of encouraging people in heart, strengthening people in faith, and above all, pointing people to Jesus. You can check out her beautiful designs at andreahowey.com and connect with her on Instagram.

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