Yesterday we studied about baptism as part of church life. Today and tomorrow we will study aspects of the Communion service.
Jesus wanted to impress upon the church throughout its history the value of His sacrifice and of His second coming. He also longed to impress upon the church a clear sense of what it should be in its spirit of service both within and without its ever-widening circle of fellow-ship. He symbolized these truths by instituting the Communion service, which includes the ordinance of foot washing.
As you read John 13:1-17, look for the answers to the following questions: (1) Why did Jesus wash the disciples' feet? (2) What did He tell Peter? (3) What did He tell all His disciples?
The roads in Palestine were either dusty or muddy. Because the crude sandals of the people could not protect them against such dirt, servants would wash the feet of guests before they entered the house. But Jesus and His disciples had no servants. And obviously none of the 12 would accept that duty. Only Jesus, the Son of God, would do that!
Christ designed this service to remind us that (1) He "made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men" (NKJV) (Phil. 2:7, NKJV); (2) we need regular cleansing because we sometimes stumble and fall in the Christian walk, even though we have accepted Christ and were cleansed by His blood; (3) we need the spirit of humble, loving service that is free of jealousy, pride, and self-centeredness.
"This ordinance is Christ's appointed preparation for the sacramental service.... There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for self, to seek the highest place; and often this results in evil surmisings and bitterness of spirit. The ordinance preceding the Lord's Supper is to clear away these misunderstandings, to bring man out of his selfishness, down from his stilts of self-exaltation, to the humility of heart that will lead him to serve his brother."- The Desire of Ages, p. 650.
When Jesus washed His disciples' feet, He knew that one of them would betray Him and another would deny Him. Yet Jesus met this disloyalty with the greatest of humility and love. Pray that Jesus' attitudes will be yours. If His attitudes do become yours, how will this affect the way you treat your enemies, not only in the foot-washing service but in every situation?