10) Water and Spirit and Service

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“I don’t want to take a bath!” little Joanna whines.

“You can’t go with me to the birthday party unless you take a bath,” her mom replies.

“Okay, I’ll take a bath, but we have to use the bubbles.”

“Fine, we’ll use the bubbles.”

“Put them in my hair, too,” Joanna insists.  “Then, I can go swimming in the bathtub to wash them out.”

“No, we just washed your hair this morning.  It’s still clean.  You only need a quick bath.”

Sound familiar?  As a mother of four children, I’ve had “discussions” like this hundreds of times.  Reluctant obedience coupled with the child trying to have things his or her own way.

As I read the discussion between Jesus and Peter in John 13:1-17, I can’t help being reminded of the experiences with my kids, but don’t you think that Jesus gets the same response from his followers all the time?

“You shall never wash my feet.”

“If I do not wash your feet, you have no share with me.”

“Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

“The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet…”

Being a servant is a good thing.

But, was the discussion really about washing feet?  No. The context tells us that the discussion was about the master/servant relationship.  Peter and the rest of the apostles had been having a side discussion (of which Jesus was very much aware) about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom when Jesus came to power.

So, when they recline at the table to eat their evening meal and there’s no servant present to wash their nasty, dirty feet, notice that not one of these mighty men of the kingdom was humble enough to volunteer to do the dirty work.  Much better to have someone’s smelly feet in your face while you eat supper than demean yourself (and lose face) by doing a servant’s work!

Imagine their consternation when the king-to-be, their Lord and Teacher, gets up, strips down, pours water into a basin, grabs a towel, and starts working! “No, Lord!  You shouldn’t be doing that!”  Peter’s sensibilities were offended (and possibly Judas’s, too).

A Servant isn’t Greater than His Master

So, what was the point Jesus was trying to make? If the Lord and Teacher can serve by doing the meanest sort of work, then how can the servants of the master do any less than to serve one another?  “…a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

In this demonstration, Jesus reveals the true spiritual calling of those in his kingdom:

Serve others as Jesus serves you: humbly and sacrificially.

For more about Water and Spirit, check out:

Water and Spirit Introduction
1) Water and Spirit and Creation
2) Water and Spirit and the New Man
3) Water and Spirit and Wine
4) Water and Spirit and Nicodemus 
5) Water and Spirit and the Jordan
6) Water and Spirit at the Well: Decision, Decisions
7) Water and Spirit at the Pool – Do You Want to Be Healed?
8) Water and Spirit on the Sea
9) Water and Spirit Healing the Blind

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