God has called us all to love Him and love people, and part of loving people is SERVING them. If we are going to love people well, we need to serve them.
Part of maturing and growing in your relationship with God is doing what He says and walking in His ways. The more we get to know God, to more we will find ourselves wanting to apply His Word to our lives because we love Him. And even though we cannot expect to do this perfectly, we should be striving more and more to be like Jesus through the help of His Spirit living in us!
One way we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us grow to be more like Him is through SERVING OTHERS. And as in all things, Jesus is our example of what it looks like to truly serve as He wants us to serve one another. We are going to look at just a few things that we can learn from Jesus about serving in the story of Jesus washing His disciples feet in John 13:1-20 (READ HERE). We are Jesus’s followers, and followers of Jesus need to learn to serve like Him (our Master). And when we do, we are so blessed.
1. Jesus served when it was inconvenient
First of all, it is important to notice that the story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet took place during the week of the Passover. This would probably have felt like a good time to just enjoy a meal with one another. It was supposed to be a celebration and would be exciting to see everyone all together. But Jesus chose to serve others even when it wasn’t the most convenient time. He chose to use a teachable moment that could easily have been missed—because He valued the chance to serve someone more than His own comfort.
2. Jesus served in everyday life
John tells us Jesus “loved them to the end.” Many times when I think of Jesus’s love for me I think about the cross…it was the great display of love. “No greater love has one than this: that he lay his life down for his friend.” But Jesus didn’t just serve His disciples once on the crossHe was serving and demonstrating His love for them over and over again. Many times we think we will serve God and others with these huge actions, but it is important we serve others in the little things as well. Jesus loved his disciples until the end…in both the small things and the little things. At this time, Jesus had not yet gone to the cross, but John knew he was loved by Jesus. You could almost say that the little acts of service prepared Jesus to step into the big acts of service.
3. Jesus served imperfect people
It must be said…the disciples weren't perfect! Nathanael questioned where Jesus came from, James & John fought for power, Peter rebuked Jesus, the disciples rebuked the little children and would continually not understand Jesus’s teaching, and Judas was a betrayer! These guys weren’t perfect, BUT Jesus had loved them in their everyday life and served them anyway. If we want to serve like Jesus, we need to be consistently showing love by serving imperfect people—not only those who deserve it.
4. Jesus served when it was uncomfortable.
Serving Jesus can be a lot of fun and very rewarding, but other times it can just be hard. Washing feet was a degrading job and not a fun thing to do. In their culture, seeing the bottom of people’s feet was offensive and the job of washing feet was saved for only the lowest of servants. I am sure that raising the dead or healing was very fun, feeding the five thousand people with a few loaves of bread was fun, BUT not all of that Jesus did was fun. He didn't serve for the fun experience but rather to obey and love the Father. This required Him being uncomfortable at times and doing hard things that didn't just please Him.
5. Jesus served with initiative
Jesus washing His disciples’ feet shows us that He saw a need and did something about it. Jesus and the disciples didn’t have any servants to wash their feet, and their feet were dirty. This is refreshing because most people see a problem and just complain. But I have found that if we see a need, it is probably because God wants us to do something about it! We are gifted in a certain way to identify certain needs and serve others in that way. What needs do you see in your family? Your community? Your church? Can you do anything about it? What can you do about it? How can you serve?
6. Jesus served with humility
The text tells us that Jesus knowing His identity allowed Him to serve others. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God…” Jesus knew that His identity wasn’t in what He did but whose He was. This enabled Him to humble Himself and serve His disciples because He was concerned with pleasing God over man. He was able to do this because He already recognized that He was God’s servant! If God wanted Him to serve people, it was the best thing for Him. Humility is having a right recognition of one’s self, and if we truly realize we are servants of God Almighty, it will help us serve others. I have found that when I am walking in humility before God, experiencing and receiving God’s love and grace, it helps me to serve others! And ministry becomes more enjoyable because I am doing it for God and not others.
7. Jesus served to set an example
Jesus wanted the disciples to know what just happened…He wanted them to follow His ways! He told them, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” Jesus commanded his disciples to do the same as he had done. I love that Jesus not only gives us words to live by, but lived those same words out so we can see them. He doesn’t leave us in the dark to figure it all out, but He lived His life openly for us to see and understand what it looks like to serve. When we serve as Jesus serves, many people will be able to follow our example as well.
Remember, Jesus not only gave us a great example of how to serve, but He enables us to serve others by the power of His Spirit. So, may we walk in the ways of Jesus and apply these lessons of serving to our own life! When we do, we will be blessed just as Jesus told His disciples in verse 17: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them!”