Jesus was clearly God. His works demonstrated it. But stop and think about that for a moment. Jesus is God. Mankind and God could not be more different in their attributes. But Jesus as God limited Himself, and came to the earth for a great purpose. God, the omnipotent, took on frail human form. The one who created galaxies, confined himself to a flesh and blood body. Think about that! God who inhabits the far reaches of the universe and of heaven, bound himself to a tiny speck of dust planet that He had created. This is impressive to think about. The great Divine draped in humanity.
When we come to John 13, we find the clear demonstration of what this great truth looks like. Jesus had finished His public earthly ministry, and now, He sat at the table with His disciples for the Passover supper. It was finally the night that He would be betrayed and arrested, and by the next sunset, He would be killed. John pens the beautiful reality that was driving the mission of Jesus on the planet, “Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world, unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.”
The life of Jesus was marked by His love for others. In John 3:16, Jesus had told Nicodemus that it was love that had motivated God to send Jesus into the world. Now, we see that the ministry of Jesus could be summed up in love. He loved “His own.” Those who, according to John 6, the Father has given to Jesus would come to Him and He would offer them His love. Now, the night before His upcoming death, He gave one last great demonstration of Who He is, and what He came to do.
Rising from the supper table, John writes that Jesus “laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.” He was the Rabbi. His clothes were the distinct garments of authority, power, and position. But in this instance, He removed the distinctive clothes of power, and wrapped Himself with a servant’s towel. It was the common slave who would wear a towel, not the Rabbi. Not even the disciples were expected to wash feet, it was a job reserved for the lowest of the low. But Jesus, the most revered, set aside His power and authority, humbled Himself, and served those He loved.
But this was just a picture, an image, of what Jesus had already done in coming to earth. By coming to earth, Jesus had already humbled Himself immeasurably. The difference between God and man is a gap of infinite dissimilarity. When Jesus had come to the earth, He had removed His Sovereign robe of divinity. He willingly set aside His position and power and was bound in the form of a servant.
Mankind was to serve God. Humanity was nothing more than a race of servants. But God, in Jesus, came and took on the form of a man, and humbled Himself becoming the perfect servant. Having come to serve God perfectly, He also served others perfectly. But why would Jesus give up everything? Why would He come to earth and be abused by those around Him? Why would He suffer estrangement and hatred? Love. The driving reason always was love. From the beginning He loved. To the end, He loved. Even now, He loves. This is Jesus, the loving, humble, self-sacrificing, serving Messiah.
Food For Thought: Read Philippians 2:2-8. What similarities do you see between what Jesus did in John 13 and what Paul explains Jesus did in Philippians 2?