(from John 13.1-17)
Jesus and His followers have survived a week of conflict; a week which built the antagonism of His enemies to the brink of boiling over into the anger and violence of His arrest. Now come brief moments of strengthening calm before the raging eruption of an evil that will end with Jesus’ death by crucifixion.
Those disciples have traveled every day, listened to His passionate teachings but without any realization they, too, will face that boiling over—and face it soon. They’re tired, they’re dirty, they’re befuddled and cranky and clueless.
But the Christ knows the full impact of what they face; the Messiah knows what must be done; Jesus knows what these men will need for them to survive the coming onslaught. So, as the Father’s Chief Servant, He fills a basin with water, straps a towel round his waist, and fills the role of a house slave. Jesus washes the dirt from their tired feet, massaging them dry with a towel, and restoring a measure of relaxation, of calm, probably praying for each man as He worked, knowing what each one—including Judas—would face in the coming days, how he would respond, what Satan wanted in his life, the decisions he would make, who he would turn to for comfort, how quickly he would believe Jesus was alive again, and what his influence would be after he realized Jesus truly was Master of all, including death and life. So Jesus prayed. Their Messiah mediated with the Father on their behalf, then He challenged them to do the same for each other.
Restoring the weary, challenging the complacent, bringing peace to the befuddled, interceding for those in the midst of the battle and for those facing antagonism, oppression, fear, and decision. By His actions, the Chief Servant instructed those in the house [of the body] what it means to serve each other, to be a true slave of their divine Master.