When you look at the final week of the life of Jesus before the cross, called the passion week, there are so many moments and so many things that take place. Conversations, miracles, teachings, illustrations so much symbolisms and things our Lord does that speak to our life.
How would you live if you knew your time to live was short? In your final days, your real priorities surface. The things that matter surface. Think about Jesus, who in these days knew that he would be obedient to the cross and his priorities are really surfacing. He wants to spend some time with those who are closest to him.
“Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!’” Matthew 20:17-19 NIV
Jesus tells them ahead of time what will happen. He wants them to understand what we call the passion week. He is the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. But it doesn’t end there!
Jesus’ Basin Choice
The final week of Jesus is full of choices and decisions. There are so many different choices that are made that week. Jesus is making so many decisions about what He’ll say, who He’ll be with and how to obey the Father to the furthest extent. The religious leaders and the crowds are making choices. It’s Passover, so all the people of Jerusalem are making choices.
The disciples are having a hard time getting along. They’ve been on the road for three and a half years and now they begin to position and one-up one another. They’re jealous of one another.
Meanwhile Jesus knows he’s going to take the gospel and hand it to them. They’re going to be the church. Jesus is going to use these hearts and lives to lay a foundation called the church and the gates of hell cannot prevail it. But if they don’t get this, if he doesn’t stop arguing, the gates of hell could prevail it.
The night before Jesus is arrested, they gather in a room together.
“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.‘
When he had finished washing their 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.'” John 13:1-8, 12-17 NIV
Jesus is saying, you’ve got to learn how to serve one another. He isn’t beginning a movement about a foot washing service, He is trying to deposit into the hearts of the disciples, a foot washing spirit. If you don’t get a foot washing spirit, you don’t have the heart of a servant. He’s giving them a basin to choose.
On the last night Jesus shares with His disciples a less of servanthood. That it’s not important to just know about it, you’ve got to put action behind your words. It’s incredible that this is the last visual they will have of Jesus.
They will finish up around the Lord’s Supper and go out and pray and sing a hymn. The feet he washed, those clean feet, will run off in denial and betrayal. He already knew they would betray Him. Yet, He still chose the basin to serve them and it’s a choice we are all faced with.
Let’s break this passage down into the movements He made that night.
1. He got up from supper
In the middle of the meal, He allowed himself to be interrupted. Think about the interruptions in your life that caused you to stop, but later you realized they were strategic and spiritual.
2. He laid aside his garment
He took on the uniform of a servant. The disciples knew what was happening. When you wear sandals you pick up all the dirt from your travels. Typically there was a servant with a basin and a towel to wash your feet before you went to the table. But that night, there was no servant.
Everyone would have walked through and saw the basin and thought someone else will do it. They all sat there with dirty feet. When the basin is beneath you, will never be able to receive the blessing from God. The blessings follow the basin.
3. He took the towel
We were created to get into the brokenness of humanity. We were made for the mess. We were made to serve somebody.
God isn’t passing out titles, He’s passing out towels.
Jesus was saying to the disciples, plain and simple, it’s not in the title you seek, but the towel I’m handing out. We were brought into the salvation of Jesus to get involved in the spills of humanity.
4. He stooped down
He loved them to the point that He went low, so that he could lift them up. He loved them in spite of past mistakes, present flaws or future failures.
Even in all that mess, you’re worth Jesus stepping out of heaven and stooping down.
5. He leaned into them
He could have ignored the problem, but He got involved. Life really begins at serving. Do you want the basin of serving? This basin is about loving and caring and getting involved. It’s about being willing to be interrupted so that there is an invitation to life and freedom.
Pilate’s Basin Choice
Scripture tells us that in the passion week this is not the only basin. The other basin appears about 24 hours later. Since Jesus was popular, they had to arrest him at night and took him through six sham trials. None of those trials were legal, because it was illegal to have a night trial. They wanted to prosecute, persecute and execute Jesus.
After six trials, they found Jesus guilty of nothing. So they had to pay some phony witnesses to come in and put up charges against Jesus. Those paid witnesses contradicted each other, there was still no case.
Pontius Pilate who’s overseeing this trial calls for a basin, but this basin is in complete contrast to the one Jesus used.
“Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, ‘Which of these two do you want me to release to you?’
The crowd shouted back, ‘Barabbas!’ Pilate responded, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’
‘Why?’ Pilate demanded. ‘What crime has he committed?’ But the mob roared even louder, ‘Crucify him!’
Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!'” Matthew 27:20-24 NLT
Pilate asks a question all of humanity is confronted with. What do you do with Jesus? You’re either going to accept him or reject him. There’s no neutral choice. You have to make a decision about Jesus while you still have breath.
Pilate called for a basin to wash his hands of the decision that needed to be made. Just like Jesus made choices, Pilate made two choices. They are the same two choices we’re faced with.
1. He washed his hands of responsibility.
He thought he could wash his hands of responsibility, but he was responsible. All of us are. This encounter with Pilate shows us the world on one side, Christ is on the other, and the devil is the fence.
The enemy is trying to get us to think we can wash our hands of responsibility. Meanwhile Jesus stands before all of us. In Revelation it says He knocks on the door of our heart and we’re all responsible for what we do with the man, Jesus.
2. He refused to make a choice.
He thought he was done, but when you refuse to make a choice, you’re actually making a choice.
Jesus called for a basin to serve. A basin of humility. Pilate called for a basin of rejection. He rejected Jesus. All of us have a choice. What is your response to this basin choice?
Check back on your discussion from last week. What do you remember from your discussion? How is your fear of failure and redefinition of failure going?
Hear the Word
Spend some time in the word. Read John 13 and Matthew 27.
In John 13, Jesus interrupted the last supper by laying aside His garment and washing the feet of His bickering disciples with a towel and a basin of water. In this, Jesus shows us how we are to live and serve those around us with a Christ-like heart.
Jesus allowed for an interruption, saying yes to a divine appointment. He laid aside His garment, and took a towel to wash His disciple’s feet. Towels are born to be used, to get in the mess-when we embrace a towel-mentality, we embrace serving. Jesus also stooped down, showing that we don’t ascend to greatness, we descend to it through serving others in humility.
Pontius Pilate also makes a decision around a basin of water, choosing to wash his hands of making a decision about Jesus’ fate. By refusing to involve himself and make a decision, Pilate rejects Jesus and the opportunity to make a positive impact. We have a responsibility to use what God has done for us and in us to make an eternal impact in the lives of those around us. Jesus chose the Basin of serving, while Pilate chose the Basin of rejection. Which example will we follow?
- What stood out to you in the message or in your reading of John 13?
- What are some ways that people have gone the extra mile to serve you?
- How would Jesus’ choice to wash his followers feet translate today? In other words, what act of service would be shocking to see a prominent leader do for those he or she leads?
- What small things could you start doing regularly to express humility and service in your family and home?
- How can you get more involved in serving others to make an eternal impact in their lives?
- How would Pilate’s choice to wash his hands of responsibility and refusing to make a choice translate today? How do we do that today?
- Pray that the Lord will open our eyes to divine interruptions and appointments. Ask Him to give the boldness to choose humble service of others over rejections. Pray for the courage to serve instead of allowing the fear of what others may think of us influence our decisions. Ask Him for opportunities to grow in community with like-minded Christians.
Tell Someone Else
How can you help others be more aware of their divine decision points where they have the choice to get involved and serve those around them with Christ-like humility.