A Footwasher to the Footwashers

The first shall be last, and the last, first.
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"Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around him" (John 13:1-5).

Jesus takes a common towel and washes the disciples' feet. That night he must have shaken Hell. Demons must have shuddered when they pondered what would happen if this mindset replaced the mentality of the world—this system of the world that is under the "control of the evil one" (1 John 5:19), which says you are important according to position, possessions, or posture in life. Jesus blew a hole right in the center of this mentality by the most valuable taking the role of the least valuable.

A Footwasher to the Footwashers

I worked with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) for 17 years, 8 of those in Kona, Hawaii, where Loren and Darlene Cunningham, co-founders of YWAM, lived. On several occasions I heard Darlene say that God had called her to be a "footwasher to the footwashers." When Loren needed to be away to take care of the vast responsibilities God had given him, Darlene was home taking care of the children, always with a positive attitude. I watched her spend untold hours counseling and encouraging those of us who were called to minister. We needed encouragement. Being logistical workers and not directly reaching the lost, we sometimes viewed ourselves as second-class missionaries. Darlene encouraged us by speaking worth and value into our lives both in relation to who we were and what we did. Through her life and example, she helped us esteem the high position of service to which God had called us. Like Jesus, she was willing to humble herself to lift others up.

I think we might be a bit surprised when God gives out rewards for our earthly deeds (Matt. 16:27). We might find high on his list of tasks, child-rearing responsibilities, washing socks, or championing others even though it placed us out of the glow of the limelight. I would not be the least bit surprised if on that day we have some shocked people when they finally realize that in serving God, it is not the height of the task or even its breadth that impresses God. It is the depth of our love for Christ—the motivation for our service—which catches the eye of our Father.

Ken Barnes is the author of The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places (YWAM Publishing).

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