Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean." After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
What will this kingdom of Christ look like? Will it be like other kingdoms, imposing its will on its citizens, and even moreso on those whom it can conquer? Or will it work much differently?
"If I am your Lord," says Jesus, "and I wash your feet, you also ought to do the same for each other."
In this act of service – the action reserved for the lowest servant in a house – Jesus suggests that his kingdom should appear upside down to those on the outside. The one who has the greatest authority (the "Lord") is the one who does the smallest act of service (and, keep in mind, his act of service will transcend even the washing of his disciples feet when he later gives over his life for them). For that reason, as we think about what it means to live inside the Kingdom of Christ, we need to think about what it means to serve each other and the world around us.
This theme will return again in an even more interesting way when Jesus is arrested, and during his trial before Pilate, but I will save my comments on those events until tomorrow.
For Reflection: How might we think differently about our roles at work, at church, and within our community if we consider that we are part of the "upside-down" movement of Jesus' kingdom?