Jesus got up from the table. Isn’t that unusual for Master of ceremonies to do? He got up. He had been reclined, as they did in those days. There wasn’t a wooden table and chairs as we’re so traditionally used to. He had been enjoying a meal with His disciples. There had been some banter back and forth, some laughter over a good cooked meal. Isn’t that how bonds, throughout time, have been further deepened? Over a meal, together, they bonded, they shared, they loved. Then Jesus got up. What was He about to do? The room was slightly stuffy, and getting warmer. There was a humidity in the air which matched the body heat of those gathered there. As each disciple had eaten their share of the food and had drunken a share of the wine, Jesus did not rest. He didn’t find the nearest lazy boy chair to recline in. He didn’t make his disciples go and do the dishes. He didn’t rest. Instead, He got up and after wrapping a towel around His waist, He filled a basin full of water. The disciples were caught off guard. Some were still chewing the last bits of food and draining their cups of the last drops of wine. Glances were exchanged, expressions of bewilderment and surprise replaced the revelry of celebration.
Having wrapped the towel around His waist and poured the water into the basin, Jesus begins to display for His disciples what a true discipleship looks like: a servant of all. Kneeling down before them, Jesus places himself beneath their dirty, filthy, smelly feet and washes them. He becomes a servant before them. He takes on the very job of a household servant. The son of God stooping down to wiping the dirt from the feet of His people. Is there any better description or account of doing the will of God? The actual Messiah, Jesus kneeling down and cleansing those who needed cleansing the most? Such moments like this had to have left deep impressions upon His followers. Having the One who had been present at the beginning of creation wiping away dirt from their feeble human forms, what a lesson to learn! Master becoming servant. Jesus coming down to their level and preparing them for leadership and for eternity.
This is Discipleship:
In Jewish custom, a disciple was to do as the Rabbi did. A disciple went beyond just ‘doing’ what the Rabbi did though, the purpose of a disciple was to become the Rabbi. Literally taking on his mannerisms, his theological interpretations, his actions…everything to become just like the Rabbi. Jesus knelt at their feet and washed them. Jesus displayed for his disciples what they were to become to the world around them…servants of God, serving others. Jesus even told them this when He said; “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)
Discipleship is doing the will of God, not just as a part-time worker, but a full time servant. Many will commit to part-time work as a servant, but few, when faced with choices of comfort and personal gain will accept that full-time role. Yet isn’t that what Christ-followers are called to do? To be full-time disciples in our lives? Full-time disciples of Christ doesn’t mean we give up our professional vocations and don on ropes of white and live off of the land. God can and will use you as His disciples right where you are at. Sometimes He asks us to move and to switch vocations, but many times He can and will use you if you are available for His purposes. True discipleship though looks very much that Jesus with towel wrapped around His waist washing feet. True discipleship may take on roles we feel are beneath us, not befitting one from our status…yet Jesus knelt down and washed the disciples feet, are you prepared to do so as well to those around you? Are you prepared to be a full-time disciple?
William Law once wrote; “The devout, therefore, are people who do not live to their own will, or in the way and spirit of the world, but only to the will of God. Such people consider God in everything, serve God in everything, and make every aspect of their lives holy by doing everything in the name of God and in a way that conforms to God’s glory.” (William Law, A serious call to a devout and holy life)
Do you view your life in this way? Is everything God’s? Are you doing the will of God because you are His humble servant? This is the cost of discipleship, but it’s not drudgery or done with groaning but instead because of love we cannot help but to serve the One who has set us free. Are you prepared to wrap that towel around your waist? Are you prepared to kneel down before those around you and to wash their feet? God doesn’t need any more part-time workers, He wants full-time servants who are committed to do His will.