«When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, ‘With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer’ » (Luke 22:14, 15).
WHY DID THE LORD LONG SO MUCH to eat the Passover with His disciples, was indicated by our Bible text today? That would be the last one He would eat with them before His death, and some very special circumstances would surround those last moments. One of them: the discussion they held about which of them would be the greatest.
Can we imagine a fact that is more inopportune, more questionable, than this? Within hours, their Master would be handed over to the priests and elders to fall victim to all kinds of mistreatment, and they were debating about who would occupy the places of honor in the new kingdom? It was not, by the way, the first time they had discussed a similar matter. Two of them had asked the Lord earlier for the privilege of sitting to His right and to His left in His kingdom. And this request had made the other ten disciples very angry (see Matthew 20:20—24).
How could He teach them that there was greater greatness in serving than in being served, and that it was more blessed to give than to receive? The time of the trail was approaching, and they were not at all prepared to face it. Then the Lord of Glory, standing up, took off His cloak, took a towel, put water in a basin, and began to wash His disciples’ feet!
Washing visitors’ feet was a servants job, performed only by foreign slaves. However, our Lord had no problem at all doing it, although He knew that «the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God» (John 13:3). In other words, Jesus was fully aware of His dignity as King and Lord, yet He was willing to play the role of servant, and all out of love for His disciples!
While their concern was who would occupy the highest position, His was to banish from their selfish hearts the spirit of pride and self-sufficiency. «This action [of the Lord] , » says The Desire of Ages, «opened the eyes of the disciples. Bitter shame and humiliation filled their hearts» (ch. 71, p. 644).
The appropriate question for us today is whether the humiliation of Jesus in taking on the role of a servant in order to save us will also open our eyes, not only to understand what true greatness means; but above all, to understand more and more «the width and length and depth and height» of Christ’s love (Ephesians 3:18) for you and for me.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, because although You were always aware of Your real dignity, You took on the role of servant in order to save me.