Uncover Jesus' profound lesson on humility and service in John 13:12-17, urging us to lead by serving others with love.
John 13:12-17 — Servant Leadership — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel. Today we will reflect on John 13:12-17. Listen.
When [Jesus] had finished washing [the apostle’s] feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Here is a powerful lesson from Jesus that flips the conventional understanding of power, authority, and greatness on its head. Jesus, despite being Lord and Teacher, takes on the role of the lowest servant, demonstrating that true leadership is grounded in service.
Jesus' question, "Do you understand what I have done for you?" invites us to reflect on the significance of his actions. Do we truly grasp the depth of Jesus' call to servant leadership? For those who don’t, Jesus makes it very clear when he says, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet."
You cannot get more clear than that. Jesus is calling his followers — us! — to emulate his example of humility and service, disregarding social hierarchies and personal pride. He is calling us to actively seek ways to serve one another in love, embodying the humility Jesus displayed.
Jesus underscores the point, saying that "no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him." This statement reminds us that if Jesus, who is Lord and Teacher, embraced such humility, how much more should we?
Lastly, Jesus concludes with a promise, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." Knowledge must lead to action. The apostle James exhorted: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says! (James 1:22). And, Jesus says, blessings will follow as a result.
As we reflect on this passage, let us consider how we might live out this call to servant leadership in our own lives. It might mean serving those within our community who are overlooked or marginalized. It could involve offering our time and resources to help those in need. Whatever form it takes, the heart of Jesus' message is clear: greatness in his kingdom is measured not by how many serve us, but by how many we serve.
God bless you.