We don’t exactly know the details, but the Passover meal was in progress and the disciples’ feet were dusty and dirty. Perhaps it was an honest oversight. Or maybe nobody wanted to take on the role of a servant. Regardless, Jesus saw this as a teaching opportunity. With a simple act, He would show His disciples how to love one another. After taking a towel and basin, He began washing every person’s feet (including the feet of Judas!). Then Jesus said something that changed history: “A new command I give you: Love one another” (John 13:34).
You also ought to wash one another’s feet.John 13:14
But what was “new” about this command? The newness can be discovered in the words “as I have loved you.” This command can be traced back to Leviticus 19:18, “love your neighbor as yourself.” In washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus gives us an example to live by. Love is selfless and sacrificial. When we love like Jesus, we expand our faith from merely looking inwardly to our relationship with God to transforming how we treat those around us.
Loving one another like Jesus loved is the identifying mark of all believers (v. 35). Everything else falls under the umbrella of this command. It was, in fact, the love the disciples had for one another that made them stand out in the pagan societies of the first few centuries. For the early Christians, this command was not simply a mere suggestion, it controlled their lives. Loving one another like Jesus is our command as well. Christians today can make an impact in our godless societies by selflessly and humbly loving one another. Following Jesus’ example of service is one of the many ways we can love and transform our communities.
Love often requires sacrifice. Consider what you may need to sacrifice to serve one another well. Is it your pride? Time? Resources? Whatever it may be, you will be fulfilling Jesus’ new command.