John 13 gives us a few more details about the last supper. Jesus is getting ready to depart the 12 and this earth. Scripture tells us that He “loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end”. What an example of how we are to love. So often we treat love as one of the conditional things in life. In God’s world – love is not conditional. It is complete and total and given without regard to the receiver. Love is forever in God’s economy. It isn’t turned off and on based on what people do or say. Unfortunately that is how a lot of us treat love. We will shower others with love when we are happy with them, or we are getting our way, but if they don’t do the things we want to turn off the spigot. That is not the kind of love Jesus models for us. He shows us God’s love – unconditional and never ending. He goes on to put that love into action as he washes the feet of the 12. Jesus is serving and loving his followers. Isn’t that backward? Why is the leader washing the feet of the led? Peter says wait a minute Jesus, you can’t wash my feet. “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head”. But Peter misses the point here – it is about servant leadership. It is about setting an example for us to follow. It is setting the standard for love. Jesus explains it this way: “If I then, 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 to you”. Jesus is showing the disciples, and us, how we should lead and love those in our patch. Have you ever had your feet washed? It is a truly humbling experience. And washing the feet of another is equally so. If you have never done it, I suggest you give it a try starting at home with your family. There is no more powerful way to show yourself a servant leader than kneeling before your spouse and kids and washing their feet as you bless them before God.
Jesus goes on to give us the truth that is beneath His act of servant hood: “a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him”. Servant leadership is God’s plan – Jesus came to model it – and it is our job to live that way as we touch others. So many leaders have the wrong impression that the people are there to serve them. That is what is wrong with politics today. It is all about the few who are elected rather than those they serve. Jesus turns all this stuff upside down. He gives us new marching orders. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another”. It isn’t about me – it is about loving others. It is about living like Jesus lived. The focus is not on self, but on those in our patch. Is that how you are living – focused on loving those around you? It should begin at home and spill to all we touch. Why? Because it shows who we belong to. It shows that someone other than self is in charge. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. It is the sign that we are walking with Jesus. We need to really ponder how we live. Are we people of love – where others are put first? Or do we spend our days focused on self and what we can do for me, myself and I? Jesus way is very different than that. It isn’t just a suggestion either – it is our commandment!