Humble Hero


A Servant of Servants

This chapter is based on Luke 22:7-18, 24; John 13:1-17.

Christ and His disciples had gathered to celebrate the Passover. The Savior knew that His hour had come. He Himself was the true Passover Lamb, and on the day the feast was eaten He was to be sacrificed. Only a few quiet hours remained for Him to spend for the benefit of His disciples. HH 301.1

Christ’s life had been one of unselfish service. “Not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28) had been the lesson of everything He did. But the disciples had not learned the lesson yet. At this last Passover, Jesus was troubled. A shadow came over His face. The disciples sensed that something weighed heavily on His mind. HH 301.2

As they were gathered around the table, He said, “‘With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover, with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’” HH 301.3

Christ was now in the shadow of the cross, and the pain was torturing His heart. He knew that the disciples would desert Him. He knew that He would be put to death by the most humiliating process inflicted on criminals. He knew how ungrateful and cruel the people He had come to save could be. He knew that for many the sacrifice He must make would be in vain. Knowing all that was before Him, He might naturally have been overwhelmed with the thought of His own humiliation and suffering. But He did not think of Himself. His care for His disciples was uppermost in His mind. HH 301.4

On this last evening, Jesus had much to tell them. But He saw that they could not bear what He had to say. As He looked into their faces, the words remained unspoken on His lips. Moments passed in silence. The disciples were uneasy. The looks they gave each other told of jealousy and conflict. HH 301.5

There was “a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.” This strife grieved and wounded Jesus. Each of them still longed for the highest place in the kingdom. James and John had dared to ask for the highest position, and this angered the ten so much that it threatened to split the group. Judas was the most severe on James and John. HH 301.6

When the disciples entered the upper room, Judas pushed his way next to Christ on the left side; John was on the right. If there was a highest place, Judas was determined to have it. HH 302.1

Another cause of conflict had arisen. It was customary for a servant to wash the feet of the guests. On this occasion the pitcher, the basin, and the towel were in place and ready, but no servant was present, and it was the disciples’ duty to perform the task. But each determined not to act the part of a servant. All of them put on the appearance of unconcern. By their silence they refused to humble themselves. HH 302.2

How was Christ to bring these poor followers where Satan would not gain a clear victory over them? How could He show them that merely professing to be His disciples did not make them disciples? How could He kindle love in their hearts and enable them to comprehend what He longed to tell them? HH 302.3

Jesus waited for a time to see what they would do. Then He, the divine Teacher, rose from the table. Laying aside the outer garment that would have restricted His movements, He took a towel. In silence the disciples waited to see what would happen. “After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” This action opened the eyes of the disciples. Bitter shame filled their hearts, and they saw themselves in a new light. HH 302.4

Christ gave them an example they would never forget. His love for them was not easily disturbed. He had full consciousness of His divinity, but He had laid aside His royal crown and had taken the form of a servant. One of the last acts of His life on earth was to clothe Himself like a servant and perform a servant’s role. HH 302.5

Before the Passover Judas had made the arrangements to deliver Jesus into the hands of the priests and scribes. The disciples knew nothing of Judas’s intentions. Jesus alone could read his secret, yet He did not expose him. He felt such a burden for Judas as He had felt for Jerusalem when He wept over the doomed city. HH 302.6

Judas felt the drawing power of that love. When the Savior’s hands were washing those soiled feet and wiping them with the towel, the heart of Judas throbbed with the impulse to confess his sin. But he would not humble himself. He hardened his heart against repentance, and the old impulses again controlled him. Now Judas became offended at Christ’s act in washing the feet of His disciples. If Jesus could so humble Himself, he thought, He could not be Israel’s king. After seeing Him degrade Himself, as he thought, Judas was confirmed in his decision to disown Jesus and admit that he had been deceived. Possessed by a demon, he resolved to complete the work he had agreed to do in betraying his Lord. HH 302.7