Jesus certainly practiced what He preached.
Mark 9 records the disciples arguing over which of them was the greatest.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Throughout His ministry, Jesus exhibited servanthood, but never more than on the night He was betrayed:
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love (John 13:1).
Jesus is going to be arrested, unjustly condemned and cruelly executed within hours. He had every right to think of His own physical and emotional needs and expect His disciples to minister to Him. Instead, He stripped down to His tunic and washed the feet of the man who would soon betray Him, the man who would deny Him three times, and the ten others who would desert Him in His hour of need.
How could Jesus possibly do this? The key is that “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power.” Jesus knew who He was. He didn’t have to prove His power and authority by demanding honor and praise from men. He knew He was the very Son of God and that performing menial tasks—like washing dirty feet—didn’t change His status. It takes power to be a servant; strength to be gentle. (A powerless person doesn’t serve but subjugates himself.) And Jesus proved to be a powerful servant as Paul writes:
[Jesus] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant . . . becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:7-8).
If we are trying to prove our value or status, it will be difficult to truly serve. But if we believe we the Father’s beloved children, it will be easier to serve, since we have nothing to prove.
Copyright © James N. Watkins
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