From Heaven With Love


Chapter 71—A Servant of Servants

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

Christ with His disciples had gathered to celebrate the Passover. The Saviour knew that His hour was come; He Himself was the true paschal lamb, and on the day the Passover was eaten He was to be sacrificed. A few quiet hours yet remained to Him to be spent for the benefit of His disciples. HLv 433.1

The life of Christ had been one of unselfish service. “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Matthew 20:28) had been the lesson of His every act. But not yet had the disciples learned the lesson. At this last Passover Jesus was troubled. A shadow rested upon His countenance. The disciples perceived that something weighed heavily on His mind. HLv 433.2

As they were gathered about the table, He said, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not anymore eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.” HLv 433.3

Christ was now in the shadow of the cross, and the pain was torturing His heart. He knew He would be deserted; He knew that by the most humiliating process to which criminals were subjected He would be put to death. He knew the ingratitude and cruelty of those He had come to save. 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. HLv 433.4

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 were stayed on His lips. Moments passed in silence. The disciples were ill at ease. The glances they cast on each other told of jealousy and contention. HLv 434.1

There was “a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.” This contention grieved and wounded Jesus. Each still longed for the highest place in the kingdom. That James and John should presume to ask for the highest position so stirred the ten that alienation threatened. Judas was the most severe on James and John. HLv 434.2

When the disciples entered the upper room, Judas pressed next to Christ on the left side; John was on the right. If there was a highest place, Judas was determined to have it. HLv 434.3

Another cause of dissension 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 readiness; but no servant was present, and it was the disciples’ part to perform it. But each determined not to act the part of a servant. All manifested a stoical unconcern. By their silence they refused to humble themselves. HLv 434.4

How was Christ to bring these poor souls where Satan would not gain over them a decided victory? How could He show that a mere profession of discipleship did not make them disciples? How was He to kindle love in their hearts and enable them to comprehend what He longed to tell them? HLv 434.5

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 impeded His movements, He took a towel. In silence the disciples waited to see what was to follow. “After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded.” This action opened the eyes of the disciples. Bitter shame filled their hearts, and they saw themselves in a new light. HLv 434.6

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 gird Himself as a servant, and perform a servant's part. HLv 435.1

Before the Passover Judas had closed the contract to deliver Jesus into the hands of the priests and scribes. The disciples knew nothing of the purpose of Judas. Jesus alone could read his secret, yet He did not expose him. He felt for him such a burden as for Jerusalem when He wept over the doomed city. HLv 435.2

The constraining power of that love was felt by Judas. When the Saviour's hands were bathing those soiled feet and wiping them with the towel, the heart of Judas thrilled 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. Judas was now 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, he was confirmed in his purpose to disown Him, and confess himself deceived. Possessed by a demon, he resolved to complete the work he had agreed to do in betraying his Lord. HLv 435.3