12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them (John 13.12-17, ESV).
Memory Verse – Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him – John 13.16
What does it mean to be a servant? How should one act as a servant? Should we even be servants? These are all good questions and over the next few days we are going to explore them, dive deeper into what it means to be a servant and the right kind of attitude a servant should have.
There are many places within scripture we could go to draw examples from but we will start with our Lord and Savior in the book of John. The Passover is about to begin, Jesus knows His hour is at hand, and the disciples still have a lot to learn. Jesus has used every opportunity to teach them how to be servants through compassion, looking out for others needs, to understanding that the little ones are just as important as the adults.
However, at almost every turn the disciples missed what Jesus was showing them, they failed to understand or comprehend His deeper meaning; and worst they had no idea how to apply what He was teaching them. Now, before we start casting stones at them, remember we have the entire Word of God, the Holy Spirit and 2000 years of spiritual history and yet we still act just like them. So, let us learn from their mistakes instead of casting the first stone.
In John 13, Jesus and the disciples are having the Passover meal. At the conclusion of the meal Jesus gets up and removes His clothes putting on a towel and begins to wash the disciple’s feet. Now, let us put this into historical context, “footwashing was regarded as so lowly a task that it could not be required of a Hebrew slave.” Footwashing was left for the lowest slaves to perform and was never done by the master or host of the house.
Jesus’ act was both amazing and confusing to the disciples, yet He, as always, was teaching them how they needed to be when He was gone. He says to them, “You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13.13-14, CSB).
Jesus was not saying to them to go out and wash people’s feet, but that they needed to remember who they are, where they come from and how they are to interact with others. If the Messiah, the Savior of the World, the Lamb of God could humble Himself and wash the disciple’s feet then they could humble themselves and serve others; but more importantly they could serve Christ with all they have.
See, service is about denying ourselves and being fully committed to one person, one object, one thing or task. When our focus is divided among many things it is hard for us to give, nah impossible, for us to give our all. This is why Paul said, “I wish that all men (women) were even as I myself am” (I Corinthians 7.7, NASB95). What is Paul talking about? In this case marriage, why is he making this type of statement? His reasoning for this question can be found in verses 32-35—But I would have you to be free from cares. He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and is divided. So also the woman that is unmarried and the virgin is careful for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is seemly, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction (I Corinthians 7.32-35, ASV).
Our interest in marriage is divided, and in life the more things we take on our interests get divided. We need to be reminded that our life as a believer is here to serve the Lord, seeking after Him. It does not mean we forget our responsibilities and obligations, but we must also not allow our position or success to go to our heads.
Christ’s example is as He said, “no one is above their Master.’ Therefore, we must always be looking for ways to serve our fellowman; not for recognition or reward but because it is was Christ has exemplified for us, “it is our reasonable service” (Romans 12.2).
So, when we are going into a new church, or ministry, or small group, or wherever Christ is leading us our first thoughts should not be, “what will I get out of this,” “what will they do for me,” “how will this group or church benefit me,” or “what services do they have to offer me or my family.”
We should be asking this question instead, “Lord, how can I best be used by You here, for Your glory and honor?” We must remember when it comes to service the first part is to ‘serve’ and the second part is to ‘deny.’ Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16.24, ESV).
We are to come after Christ, then ‘deny; ourselves, putting all things Christ first and foremost in our life. It is only when we do this we can truly ‘take up our cross’ and ‘follow’ Him. Service is about ‘denial’ letting go of yourself and allowing God to reign supreme in your life.
Lord, our Lord how magnificent is your name throughout the earth! I am amazed that You have taken the time to care about me, to look after me, to know me, and understand me. Lord help me to have a servant’s heart, to be someone who is looking out for the interest of others, and not just my own. Lord, give me wisdom to do for others, to have compassion on those who need Your help and allow me to show Your love and grace by my actions. As I serve You Lord, open the door to share Your gospel, begin to prepare the hearts of those I will come into contact with and provide me with the words to say. This I pray in Your Dear Son Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 13:12–17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Church, C. (2003). Footwashing. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 592). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Jn 13:13–14). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 New American Standard Bible, 1995 Edition: Paragraph Version. (1995). (1 Co 7:7). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 American Standard Version. (1995). (1 Co 7:32–35). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 16:24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.