(Jesus said) "For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. John 13:15
Here's a news flash: when the Statue of Liberty was designed and built there were no airplanes or helicopters.
Logic says since there were no helicopters or airplanes, once the statue was up, nobody would ever see the top. This leads me to ask why did the designer of the statue spend the same energy on the top that he did on the rest of the statue? Why did he put the same kind of detail and care and painstaking craftsmanship on the unseen top of Lady Liberty's head as he did with her feet, which would be viewed by everybody? It's true, the statue's hair, crown and her eyes are all perfectly done.
Why did he do it? The only answer I can think of is this: he wanted to do the job right.
This leads me to ask about the text that is printed at the top of our devotion. The words of Jesus are taken from the time immediately after He had washed the disciples' feet. Having does this humble act, Jesus encouraged them to do the same for others.
My question is why did He do it? Why did He wash the feet of His followers?
It wasn't as if anyone might have downgraded Him if He had omitted this little detail. Later biblical scholars would never have accused Him of having committed a sin of omission. So why did Jesus wash the disciples' feet?
The only answer I can think of is this: Jesus wanted to do the job right. In the past He had told the disciples to serve as He served. But those words hadn't been enough. The clock was ticking, and the disciples still were arguing about who was going to be greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
That's why Jesus decided, in a very practical way, to show His closest followers exactly how far they might go in serving others. That's why He washed their feet. He was telling them that there's no job too small or menial for His followers to perform -- in love -- for others. No, Jesus' followers could never give as perfectly as He did, and their giving would never forgive sins or save souls, but that didn't change the fact Jesus wanted His disciples to serve.
Every Christian agrees with that in principle.
It's when things get practical that problems arise.
Think back, when is the last time you heard the pastor of your church say, "Thank you all, but we don't need any more VBS teachers. More people came forward than we could possibly ever use."
Or when was the last time you mothers said, "The garbage needs to go out?" and you had enough volunteers to assure the job would be done for the rest of the year? It hardly ever happens because we haven't caught on that Jesus was serious when He said we should serve one another.
And He was talking to us.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, nobody would have noticed if You hadn't washed the disciples' feet. But You did because You wanted us to understand we should serve others. Grant that we understand and put that understanding into practice. In Your Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries