The Night Before the Cross: When Jesus Knelt to Serve

Can you imagine the Lord of the universe, the King of kings, kneeling down to wash feet? It's an act so shockingly humble that it's hard to fathom. Yet this is precisely what Jesus did the night before his crucifixion.

The Gospels record this remarkable scene during the Last Supper. As Jesus and his disciples gathered for this final meal, an astonishing moment took place. We read in John 13:3-5, "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."

Stop and let that visual sink in - the Creator of the cosmos, the one who spoke the world into existence, is on his hands and knees washing grime off the feet of his followers. This was a lowly task, usually reserved for the lowest servants. Yet Jesus, the Lord of all, humbled himself to this level the night before giving his life.

As astounding as this act was, Jesus explained the purpose, saying in John 13:15, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." He was calling his disciples - and all future followers - to a life of humble service, just as he lived.

This display of humility reached its ultimate expression the next day when Jesus willingly allowed himself to be beaten, mocked, and crucified on a cross like a criminal. As the prophet Isaiah foretold, "He had no beauty or majesty...he was despised and rejected" (Isaiah 53:2-3). The King of glory chose to become the Suffering Servant, all to secure salvation for you and me.

The incredible truth is that even knowing the agonizing death before him, Christ's final acts toward his disciples were of love and service, of washing their feet and sharing a meal. The God of the universe knelt as a servant so we could be raised to glory.

As we approach Easter and celebrate Christ's death and resurrection, let us embrace the upside-down reality that our Savior came not to be served, but to serve and give his life (Mark 10:45). May we follow his example of humility, loving and serving others just as he first loved and served us.