Luke 22 & John 13
John 13 is the only chapter in the four gospels that record Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. In John 13.34 Jesus teaches “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love another”. What is the newness of this commandment Jesus gives his disciples and to us? I believe it is the phrase “even as I have loved you”. The way believers are to love each other is no longer patterned after how we would want to be loved (Lev.19.18) but there is a new way to love each other. The new pattern of love is Jesus himself.
What does it mean to love other Christians like Jesus? This is a very tall order! Where do we start?! I believe the washing of the disciples feet provides a framework for what Jesus had in mind when he said love each other as I have loved you.
There are two lessons/principles we can learn from Jesus in this account that we can emulate in our lives towards other believers. The first one can be read in John 13.4-5,12-15. Jesus illustrates humility. Jesus as Lord and teacher took the position of a common house servant when he got on his hands and knees and girded himself with a towel to wash feet. If anyone’s feet should have been washed it was Jesus yet the holy selfless Lord and teacher put aside his rightful privileges to serve his students. Jesus humbled himself. Likewise we as Christians are called to humble ourselves before each other and seek out the interest of others before ourself (Eph. 4.2, 5.21, Phil. 2.3-5).
The second lesson we can learn form Jesus is that to love each other involves humbling ourselves before each other and serving one another in practical ways. The act of washing feet in antiquity served a very practical purpose. Most people wore open-toed shoes or sandals and people walked everywhere. The result was people’s feet would easily become dirty, rough, and caked with filth. No one would want to track the dirt through someone’s home so either the homeowner or a servant would wash the guests feet as they came in. It was practical for the guest and the homeowner.
What is involved in loving other Christians as Jesus loved us? Looking at the real life illustration of Jesus washing his students’ feet, we learn to love one another involves humbling ourselves before others and serving them in practical ways.
Tomorrow we will read John 14-17.