Read John 13:1-10
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, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 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
This is one of my favorite hymns, expressing the majesty (deity) and humility (humanity) of Jesus. It seems to have been inspired almost directly from this encounter between Jesus and his disciples.
The stunning nature of this event is lost on me. I’ve heard, read and studied this account for decades. The towel: The basin: Peter: Disciples’ feet: All these are worn images in my mind and heart – and sadly more in my mind than in my heart.
Look more closely, however, and you will join me in a new-found wonder. The time is drawing close for Jesus to return to his heavenly splendor. Angels await him there. The prophets, the Patriarchs, Judges, faithful women and men will rejoice at his homecoming. The Father will be fully and dramatically pleased at his final triumphal procession as he comes to the Ancient of Days (cf. Daniel 7:9-14). Thousands will serve him. The whole company of heaven will sing his praise.
His heart, however, is not yet there. He is here. With his disciples. One more lesson he had to teach them; one more time to point them to a greater greatness than they could ever imagine. He will bow down. He will wash their feet. He will wipe their feet with the towel around his waist. This is God in the flesh: serving his creation. Meekness and majesty! Here is your God.