On the night before His crucifixion, scripture says that Jesus took a towel and a basin of water and began to wash His disciples’ feet. (see John 13) As He did so, Simon Peter asked – “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” (John 13:6) In other words – Why is our Master acting like He is our servant?”
Why did Jesus do what He did? Many believe that it was a lesson on the importance of humility. Without a doubt, it was an unbelievable act of self-denial for the Creator to serve the created. Yet I believe that there was another reason for Christ’s actions. I believe that Jesus was trying to reveal to us a part of the nature of God. We read from the Bible- “…God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Love is an expression of God’s eternal essence.
Descriptions of God’s nature and disposition are often referred to as His attributes. The Bible says that God has many wonderful attributes and characteristics. For instance, scripture says that God is: truthfulness (1 John 1:6); holiness (Psalm 99:9); righteousness (Daniel 9:14) and justice (Isaiah 45:21). The Bible also tells us that God never changes. (Malachi 3:6) God has many, many wonderful attributes, but the one that stands out the most to me is – “God is love.” (1 John 4:8, 16) The eternal, magnificent God of all creation is a God of love.
Warren Wiersbe notes in his commentary that the apostle John used the word ‘love’ often in his gospel. ‘Love’ is found twelve times in the first twelve chapters. But then at the beginning of chapter 13, something amazing happened. From there on John used the word ‘love’ at least another forty-four times. It’s as if there was an explosion of love. Indeed there was. Jesus Himself used the word ‘love’ over thirty times His final discourse with His disciples.
- A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. John 13:34
- By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35
- As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. John 15:9
- This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:12
- Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
- And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:26
The washing the disciples’ feet was only the prelude to God’s sympathy of love. The Bible tells us that the greatest act of love the world has ever witnessed was when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Concerning this love, the Apostle John wrote –
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 NIV)