Jesus has been given all authority and power in heaven and on earth. In John 13, he was about to be handed over to the Romans and nailed to the cross. He was preparing through his resurrection to ascend into Heaven and be seated at the right hand of God. He was perfectly in the will of God, on the verge of enacting the greatest moment in human history.
However, at this critical moment, he does not give any orders. Instead, he gives an example of humility. Jesus takes a basin and washes the feet of his disciples. It was the duty usually reserved for slaves who had to wash the feet of their masters after long days of walking on dusty roads. “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. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you’” (John 13:12-15, NRSV). Jesus voluntarily takes on the tasks of a servant, calling his disciples and all believers throughout time to follow in his footsteps and imitate him.
My wife and I have not been perfect in this area, obviously. We’ve failed at times. However, we have always chosen to rely on the grace of God and to continue to humbly submit ourselves to Christ’s example in the following areas:
• Passion for God, for his people and for those who suffer.
• Generosity, because God’s heart has unlimited and unconditional kindness and generosity towards us.
• Faith in our prayer life and through our trials, losses, suffering, disappointments and struggles.
• Fidelity in our commitments and faithfulness in our obedience to the Word of God.
Jesus knew that nothing is more powerful than the model of our lives. If this was true in the time of Jesus, it is even more so today. The young generation is especially characterized by a zero tolerance policy for the whole “Do as I say and not as I do” line of thinking. Your behavior will speak louder than sermons or any advice in the lives of others, particularly young people.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.