Jesus shows the ultimate example of servant leadership by washing His disciples’ feet in John 13. John sets the stage by saying in verse 1; “He now showed them the full extent of His love.” Serving others is truly an ultimate expression of the Father’s love. Why would the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, dress down like a slave, stoop and wash dirty feet?! John shows us it was because He knew His identity and possessed the Father’s love.
Jesus was able to ‘demote’ Himself willingly because: 1. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power. (He knew that God was in control of His life and ministry.) 2. Jesus knew He came from God. (He knew that God was the source of His mission in life.) 3. Jesus knew He was returning to God (Jesus had an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one.) (vs. 3)
Being a servant was Christ’s identity. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (Gk: doulos), being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5-7) A doulos (or bond-servant) is a slave who when set free says, “I love my master and do not want to leave you” voluntarily giving up his or her freedom and giving their allegiance to their master. A doulos is devoted to their master to the disregard of their own interests.
Identity precedes and affects behavior. Jesus set an example for us that we should do likewise and even promises that we will be blessed if we do. We can serve others, and in doing so serve Christ, when our identity is that of a doulos of Jesus!