Recently I came across a hand-towel in a store that read: “Who fired the maid?” I found the towel a little funny. It’s interesting how a towel has become an image of servanthood. The implication of the towel was, “why do I have to clean something up…that’s a maids job.”
My mind went to events that occurred in the life of Christ and His disciples on the night he was to be betrayed. They find themselves in an “upper room.” The account of the upper room is recorded in all four gospels (Matt 26:1-29, Mk 14:12-25, Lk 22:7-20, and Jn 13:1-38). In these last hours Christ spent with His disciples, He ate with them, instituted the New Covenant in His Blood (communion), gave them last-minute instructions and encouragement, and prayed His “high priestly prayer” over them. Then Jesus went to face betrayal, rejection, torture, and death on a cross for which He had come into the world.
The hand-towel I saw drew my mind to the object lesson Jesus engaged the disciples in that evening. During the gathering, the disciples begin arguing over who is the greatest. Keep this in mind. Jesus’ mind is filled with thoughts of His love for His followers as well as a clear understanding of His betrayal, suffering, and death. Jesus is keenly aware of His God-given authority and His destiny. Then, Jesus quietly rose and began to wash the disciples’ feet. The lowest, most menial servant typically performed this task.
Jesus’ whole coming to earth was an act of humility. Paul writes to the church in Philippi:
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form” (Phil 1:5-7).
Jesus willingly placed upon His divinity humanity. Here again, in the upper room, Jesus shows humility by taking the place of a servant. By this humble act, Jesus reminds them that His followers are to embody His example and take the posture of a servant and not expect to be served. Can you imagine the mind-shift from discussing who is the greatest to see the greatest take the place of the least?
He goes on to explain that, unless the Lamb of God cleanses a person’s sin, that person will never be clean: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me” (Jn 13:8). Jesus teaches that until we humble ourselves and let Jesus wash us of our sins, we have no saving fellowship with Him.
Jesus is our Teacher and Lord and yet humbled Himself to perform a lowly service, how could we do any less than with humility serve others. Jesus example provides the picture of a Christlike life overflowing with the fullness of God, where the blessed can be a blessing. Jesus teaches us that salvation is only possible through receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. And, only through the pathway of humility can we live with the blessing of the overflowing fullness of God flowing from us, the blessed, to bless others. In a real sense, no one fired the maid. I am commissioned to be that servant. Imagine how following the example of Christ’s humble posture would impact our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and region. It would bring more than a mind-shift, it would be renewal and revival.
It is my joy to follow Christ with each of you. Let’s encourage each other to embody Christ’s humble service to others. Let’s pick up our towel and descend into the greatness of genuine fellowship with our Lord. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!