It was the last thing they expected. In a journey of many unexpected turns, they didn’t see this turn coming. In three years of seeing innumerable signs and wonders performed, they could never have conceived witnessing this. With every paradigm shifting thing they had experienced, this turned their world upside down, perhaps like no other.
After all, He was the Leader, and they were the followers. He was the Teacher, and they were His students. He was the Master, they, if anyone in this relationship, were His servants. So there’s no way they saw it coming.
What’s more they had come to believe He was the Messiah. To declare that He was the Son of God. To begin to comprehend that He really was from heaven, the only begotten of the Father. Convinced that, whatever it meant, He and the Father were somehow one. And so, what He did that night before dinner couldn’t have been anywhere on their radar.
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, rose from supper. He laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’’feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.
(John 13:3-5 ESV)
Knowing what He knew, Jesus did what He did. Knowing who He was, freed Him to do what He needed to be done.
No way anyone would expect the Sovereign to take on the role of a servant. Unimaginable that the Creator would cleanse His creation’s feet. While you might imagine a royal robe arrayed over the almighty King’s shoulders, who would have conceived of a cleaning cloth wrapped about His waist?
What a risky move. Doesn’t really reinforce being heaven sent. Not the marker you’d expect for Someone in whom the fullness of deity dwells (Col. 2:9). Doesn’t align with the picture formed in the mind’s eyes of Someone who has created all things and holds all things together. Nor the posture you’d expect of Someone who, in all things, is to be preeminent (Col. 1:16-18).
No, not really a very good indicator of who He was. But so appropriate for what He had come to do.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” ~ Jesus
(Mark 10:45 ESV)
So, knowing what He knew, Jesus was free to do what He did.
Knowing that He had come from God . . . knowing that He was going back to God . . . knowing that He was God . . . and that the First Person of the Holy Trinity, the Father, had given all things into His hands. Knowing all that–knowing who He was and why He had come–He laid aside His outer garments, took up the towel, tied it about His waist, and Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.
Not concerned with how it might look to the world. But focused on what it would communicate about the kingdom. Not worried about what others would think. Instead, wanting only that His disciples would see an example of how they were to live (Jn. 13:14-15).
Chewing, this morning, on the example set by Jesus of the importance of identity. Of the freedom found in knowing who we are.
Image-bearers created by Christ. A redeemed people purchased with the blood of Christ. A holy people, infused with the life of Christ. A holy priesthood commissioned in Christ to declare a kingdom of light.
There is power in identity. Power in knowing who you are and why you are. In knowing that you are loved by God, redeemed by God, empowered by God, and sent out from God.
And in that power, there is freedom. Freedom to live for God. Regardless of how it looks or what others might think or say.
Knowing what we know about ourselves, frees us to be what He wants us to be for Himself.
By His grace. For His glory.