By: Travis Stockelman
What does it look like to love others? I am not necessarily talking about a romantic type of love here, but rather for anyone that you come into contact with. This may be a neighbor, a friend, a coworker, or a spouse. How does authentic love manifest itself? I believe that we are told here in this passage.
John 13 opens by very plainly stating the love that Jesus had for His disciples. John writes, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” At least, this is how most translations translate this passage. The Greek literally means that Jesus loved them “to the uttermost.” In other words, Jesus loved His disciples, and loves us, to the highest degree possible.
This is how much Jesus loved His disciples, and how much He loves both you and I. His love is a love that never ends. This means that a good first place to look at how love manifests itself is to look at Jesus. How did Jesus show His love toward His disciples in this passage? Let me suggest two things. First, Jesus humbled Himself. Second, Jesus served His disciples.
In this passage, Jesus’ humility shows His love for His disciples. It was customary during this time for people to have their feet washed. Usually, this was reserved for the lowest slave, who would wash the feet of his master and his master’s guests. This was a very humbling thing to do, and it would be unthinkable for someone of high status to do such a thing.
Look with me now at the scene before us. None of the disciples were willing to humble themselves to wash the feet of Jesus and his fellow-disciples, since this would be stooping to a lower status than they. Instead, Jesus takes the initiative on Himself to wash the disciple’s feet. Jesus humbles Himself so that the disciples do not have to. I believe this is an authentic manifestation of love, as demonstrated by Jesus.
Jesus went even further than that, however. His humbling of Himself involved service to others—service that was usually reserved for the lowest of slaves. He was the Master, the only one at the table who had the right to say that someone else should wash His feet. Jesus did not seem to care about this. Jesus seemed to care about loving His disciples and leaving them an example of how to love others.
So, how does love manifest itself? In short, it manifests itself in humility and in service to others. Jesus reminded His disciples, and reminds us, that, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (v.14-15). As we go throughout our day, may we find ways to love others as Jesus has loved us.