How do we live as a people redeemed for service? The Lord did not leave His disciples to guess. They were His apostles who would lay the foundation of His teaching for His Church in the generations to come. The Lord did not want them to lord over His sheep but to lovingly shepherd them. Being the master teacher, He taught them by His example as He told them in Luke 22:27, “But I am among you as one who serves.” Interestingly, John 13 tells us Jesus had just washed His disciples’ feet before the supper.
Peter initially refused his feet to be washed by Jesus. But the Lord told him that if he did not allow Him to wash his feet, he had no part in Him. Peter then asked the Lord to wash his whole body. The Lord replied that he was already clean, but not all of them, referring to Judas who would betray Him. The Lord was teaching two key doctrines here.
First, all true disciples of Jesus have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, metaphorically referred to as bathing all over. It gives a sinner a new heart, with a new desire to love and follow Christ. It is an experience leading to conversion that needs never to be repeated.
However, just as the feet get dirty daily by walking on the streets, the washing of the feet by the Lord metaphorically teaches us that we need to come to the Lord daily for cleansing and renewal of our hearts and minds. Ephesians 5:26 says the Lord sanctifies the church by cleansing her with the washing of water with the word.
The Lord then says in John 13:13-17 that He has given us an example to do as He has done to us and that we will be blessed if we do so. This means if we are thinking of helping our brothers and sisters who are struggling in sin, it requires that we first have experienced our sins being washed by the Lord, and have learned from that experience how we are to help our brothers and sisters the same way the Lord has helped us.
This underscores the importance of us coming daily to the Lord to rescue us from our pride, selfishness, lack of compassion, impatience, and anger. As we experience the depth of His love and patience toward us, we will be able to extend that same love and humility in our service to our brothers and sisters.