Scripture: John 13:1–17
Key Verse: “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:15)
The story in John 13:1–17 describes Jesus washing his friends’ feet as they prepare for the huge celebration called the Passover Feast. In first-century Palestine, this was an important duty of the host; it was part of welcoming the guest. As you can imagine, it wasn’t the most pleasant job—think of guests walking on unpaved roads covered with dust and mud. In many homes this annoying but necessary job fell to a lowly servant, but certainly not the host himself!
So, here’s the key question: Why did Jesus, as the host, wash the disciples’ feet? Wasn’t he the respected leader and teacher of this group? When Jesus performed this act, usually performed by servants, it seriously got the disciples’ attention (see Peter’s response in verses 6–9). Jesus wanted to teach the disciples an important lesson-that the way to show love for others is to serve them. Of equal importance, Jesus demonstrated to the disciples how they should live in God’s kingdom. If Jesus, as their leader, served them, the disciples should serve one another (see also Mark 10:41–45). According to Jesus, the greatest acts of love always involve serving someone!
As Peter’s response demonstrates, this can be a hard principle to grasp and put into practice. What attitudes do you have that get in the way of serving others? What ways of thinking and acting might you need to surrender to God?
What would it look like for you to love/serve others closest to you (siblings and/or parents)? How about at school and with friends? Or in your community?
Write a short “service plan” about a specific act of service you will do at home for one or more members of your family. Decide whether you will do it occasionally, daily, or weekly. Think about why it would be useful or important to your family. What would you have to give up, or what changes in how you think about things would you need to make, in order to serve?
After writing your thoughts, carry out the act of service. Depending on your “service plan,” you may want to discuss it with your family members before acting upon your plan.
Finally, after performing the act, complete your “service plan” with a paragraph about the results. How did serving your family members make them feel or help them? What else did you notice about the overall effects of the service? How did affect you? Were you or your family “blessed” through your service (see verse 17)? In what ways?
Lord, thank you for showing me how important it is to love and care for others by serving them. I ask you to help me make serving others a part of my life and my relationship with you.