In John 13:1-5, the picture of Jesus kneeling and washing the disciples’ feet is so striking to me. The God of the Universe, the Creator of heaven and earth, stoops so low as to literally be the servant that washes feet. It is the literal and complete fulfillment of Philippians 2:7 “… he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant…” Jesus made himself nothing… nothing! I don’t know how you have understood this picture of Jesus, but this is powerful stuff! I put myself in that scene as one of the disciples, and it brings tears to my eyes. Maybe it’s because I don’t want my Lord kneeling down and washing my feet – that I’m not worthy… that I should be the one kneeling and washing his feet. But, instead, he washes my feet. In reading this passage and forming the picture in my mind, I am overwhelmed by the extent (the height, and depth and length) Jesus will go to convey his love for me. Put yourself in that scene and imagine the touch of the hands of Jesus washing and drying your feet. It’s powerful what he’s doing. With this action, he reaches in and touches the soul.
Jesus, Master & Lord, did not consider his status or greatness as something to boast or broadcast. Besides, in the Kingdom of God there is the King… and then there is everyone else who are servants to the King. Look at v3 in our passage: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” (v3) Jesus understood his identity was in the Father. Kneeling on the ground and washing feet was not going to change his identity. His understanding of who he is was rock solid. His identity is in the Father.
How many of you are afraid to do something new, something outside of your comfort zone, something out of your ordinary routine, maybe even a little risky? Your fears and insecurities are still in the driver’s seat. Yet, as Paul wrote to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2nd Tim 1:7) Do we actually believe this? Do we actually live this out as our true identity… or do we still live under the old?
The devil will keep you deceived into believing you cannot shake your ego, that you can’t escape your old ego-identity. He wants to keep you under your monogram (and his monogram), and not under the IHS Christogram. That way you never take a risk, never grow spiritually. That way you feed your ego and keep edging God out. But God has given you a new identity! When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13, HCSB) You are a new creation! The devil doesn’t own you anymore. Stop living with fear, timidity, anxiety, and powerlessness because Jesus died to give you a new identity.
In contemporary Christianity, we’re bombarded with the idea we need strong leadership to turn the Church around. There’s nothing wrong with good, healthy Church leadership. I need leaders here in this church, and new ones in the leadership pipeline. But here’s something to consider: God is not looking for leaders… but for servants who will let Him be their Leader. A servant isn’t concerned about status or position and certainly isn’t concerned about what they’re asked to do – even if that means washing feet. Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time. Put your trust, your confidence, your identity in Jesus. He has bought you at the highest price. He has put his seal on you – the Holy Spirit. You are his. And he has set you free from the tyranny of ego.