John was there and he wants to make sure we understand. Jesus knew.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world… (John 13:1)
Jesus knew what was about to happen. We hear him telling his mother in John 2, “My hour has not yet come.” Throughout John’s Gospel, we are reminded on several occasions that certain things happened or didn’t happen “because his hour had not yet come.” But in John 13, Jesus knew. Tomorrow would be the most difficult day of his life. If ever there was a time to be served, now was that time.
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God… (13:3)
Jesus knew who he was. I AM. Fulfillment of prophecy. Light and hope of the world. The way, the truth, and the life. The door. The good shepherd. Israel’s true King. Imminent conqueror of Death. On his way back to the Father’s right hand.
Jesus knew. And perfectly equipped with that knowledge, what did he do? He rose from supper…
He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (13:4-5)
Divinely aware of everything, Jesus assumed the role of the lowliest servant. He knew that Simon Peter would deny him three times before daybreak (13:38), and he washed those dirty feet anyway.
Jesus knew how Judas would spend the rest of that night…
“You are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him… (13:11)
…and he washed those filthy feet anyway.
Sometimes, I think I know. After all, I’m fully aware of my needs, my wants, the things I deserve, who I am, my status, what I’ve earned, where I’m headed, and if only you knew what I know about myself, you’d realize that I’m the one who ought to be catered to. I’m the one who deserves the first and the best. Ever felt that way? “Don’t you know who I am?” “Don’t you know what I have on my plate?” “Don’t you know what I have to put up with?” Far too easily and often, what we think we “know” about ourselves entices and empowers us to believe that lowly things like self-denial, sacrifice, and service are beneath us.
And then we’re reminded in John 13 of what Jesus knew. In fact, that’s the basis of Paul’s encouragement to all Christians in Philippians 2:5-7:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…
Jesus knew what tomorrow held. Jesus knew who he was. Jesus knew the denial and betrayal before it happened. And knowing it all, he chose to serve anyway.
“Have this mind among yourselves.” Five challenging words to remember today.