Wednesday

Stinky Feet - Why Jesus Humbled Himself and We Should, Too


It was ugly. 

The scene at the customer service desk made me want to be somewhere else. 

“I can’t believe you don’t have this in stock,” the red-faced man yelled. “This company is pathetic. This store is pathetic. And YOU’RE pathetic,” he said as he leaned over the counter, pointing his finger at the tiny, blonde employee. 

“I’m so sorry, Sir,” she responded. “I’m going to do my best to get you what you need.” 

While I watched, the girl spoke softly and kindly to the customer. Everyone in line breathed a sigh of relief when the man finally left, still not smiling, but satisfied. 

“May I help the next customer,” the employee called, and I stepped forward. 

“You were very kind and patient,” I said to her. “I was praying for you.” 

“Thank you. Usually when something like this happens, there’s something going on in the person’s life that has very little to do with why they came into the store.” 

This young lady was very wise. She had enough self-confidence not to take such an abusive attack personally. I don’t know if she knew Jesus, but she certainly modeled his behavior. 

On the night Christ was betrayed, he took off his outer garments, knelt before his disciples, and washed their stinky feet. 

Peter resisted. He knew the Messiah shouldn’t be doing the nasty, demeaning, and subservient task. Foot washing was a job usually reserved for the lowest of servants. Certainly not the Messiah — God in the flesh. 

John 13:3 shows why Christ responded in such a humble manner: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.” He knew his authority. He knew where he had come from. He knew where he was going. 

These truths can help us, too. Let’s look closer. 

Jesus’ Authority 

Knowing his father had given him authority over everything, Jesus didn’t have to demand a position of power. He didn’t have to bite and scratch for respect. He had no need to prove himself to anyone. He was secure in who he was and the calling God had given him. 

Christ’s words to Peter on the night he was arrested show us a smidgen of Jesus’ authority: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father,” he said, “and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mat. 26:53). 

As Christians, we have no authority of our own, but God has granted us all the rights and responsibilities of adopted sons and daughters. We are positionally “seated in heavenly places” with Christ, with full authority to serve as his ambassadors. Nothing the world throws at us changes that. 

Jesus’ Origin 

Jesus also understood that he had come from God. Even more significant, he was God. Nothing could diminish his deity. This enabled him to serve others humbly, trusting that, in due time, God would exalt him. 

While we’re not God, we can move confidently through life, because we know God has a purpose for our time on earth. Unlike those who don’t believe in a Creator, we understand that God knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:16) for a reason. We’re not accidents. 

We also know, “all the days ordained for me were written in (God’s) book before one of them came to be.” This knowledge comes with a responsibility to humbly serve others as Jesus’ hands and feet in the world. 

Jesus’ Destination 

Finally, Christ knew where he was going – back to God. He understood that while his time on earth was limited, his time in heaven was forever. This knowledge charted the course of every day and every action. Knowing that his unselfish and sacrificial works would pave the way for untold numbers of people to obtain eternal life, he submitted himself to the horror and indignity of the cross. Because he knew the end of the story, he was willing to endure the temporary bad to accomplish the eternal good. Jesus taught his disciples this, and his words are true for us today. 


“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (John 12:24-26). 

Understanding that we’ll spend eternity in heaven with Christ enables us to pour ourselves out for others, knowing God not only sees our sacrifices in his name, but promises to reward us. Nothing we do in Jesus’ name will go unrecognized. One day we’ll stand before God’s throne and hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest,” and everything we’ve endured will be worth it all. 

Today is a new day, full of opportunities. Will we react humbly, like the young girl in the department store, or pridefully like the angry customer? Will we leave a fragrance of Christ behind as we serve others, or will we stink to the high heavens as we demand that others serve us? You decide. 

May the Holy Spirit be mighty within us today.

To help you ponder the joys of servanthood, here's one of my favorite songs, The Servant Song.





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