walk in the word
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. . . . Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:13, 16, esv).
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet,” Jesus said, “you also ought to wash . . . ” (13:14).
Pause. How do you predict that sentence ends? If you had to fill in the blank, what would you expect to see there? Don’t you think He’s going to say, “If I’ve washed your feet, then you also ought to wash My feet”? That would seem fitting, right? By the way, did Jesus ever get His feet washed in this passage? Not that we know of—but so often the servant is overlooked in the act of serving.
“I can’t do whatever I want. I have a Master. His name is Jesus.”
Back to the scene. As usual, Jesus defies our expectations. He finishes the sentence, “You also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Then He delineates our roles clearly. “Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”
Let’s make sure we get this analogy right. Which one are you—servant or Master? Correct, you’re a servant, and so am I. And our Master is greater. Which one are you—the messenger or the one who sends the messenger? Correct, all messengers here. Interesting distinction, which underscores the fact that only God is great. You’re not great. I’m not great. We’re not great. No one here is important. No one here is special. No one here is significant. We are simply servants and messengers. We have a Master. We have a message. We’ve been sent. We didn’t even figure out the message; it was given to us. Only God is great!
To be free of ourselves, to be done with “posing and posturing,” to be truly humble, “even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert,” wrote C.S. Lewis. How much of the pain and heartache of life come from an unrestrained self-ruling on a throne that belongs not to a servant, not to a messenger, but to a sender, to the Master. Get off that seat and get low! Only God is great.
I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do in life. The problem is that I can’t do whatever I want. I have a Master. His name is Jesus. And He’s given some fairly explicit instructions about how He wants stuff handled. Since I’m the servant and He’s the Master, I get to do things His way.
I get to humble myself.
I get to recognize my rightful place and exalt Him in His.
I get to be who God created me to be—a servant and a messenger for the King.
Lord Jesus, You are the head of the church. We are Your servants. We ask Your forgiveness for expectations that belong to owners and masters and people of significance, which we are not. We are nothing. We don’t need our names in lights. We don’t need to be recognized or remembered. We desire that our lives would be an expression of gratitude for Your saving grace. Sanctify us and convict us, we pray. Thank You, Jesus, for Your example. How awesome You are. We love You. You are all that we long to be. Seal this passage to our souls, we ask in the precious name of our Savior Jesus, amen.
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