Living Your Identity

“The Father had put everything in Jesus’ control.

Jesus knew that.

He also knew that he had come from God

 and was going back to God.

  So he got up from the table, removed his outer clothes, took a towel, and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel that he had tied around his waist.”

John 13:3-5

Jesus knew exacty Who He Was.   And what an identity He had!!  He knew where He had come from, where He was going, and He knew the fact that he was in full control of everything!   He was One-of-a-Kind, in all of eternity.

Yet, directly tied to that Ultimate Identity, “because of that” look what He chose to do:

  • “So…He got up from the table.” Jesus got up from the cushion He was to sit on for this historic meal.  He stepped away from the table where His dearest friends would share the most important meal of the year, the Passover Meal.    Celebration. Family.  Remembering their people’s miraculous relationship with God.
  • “…Took off His outer robe”…His “good robe” . . .a mark of His identity and standing in that culture.  Jesus’ robe “had no seam”, a detail identifying the skillfully woven style of His outer robe, something of high quality.(John 19:23)
  • …”and instead took a towel and tied it around His waist.” The “uniform” of a servant, a slave.
  • “He poured water into a basin…” His friends knew exactly what that basin was for.  Jesus was preparing the “foot bath” for them.  This was the task of a servant, an act of total humility and practical necessity to be shown to guests.  This was a most lowly servant’s job.
  • “…and began to wash the disciples’ feet…” Dusty, dirty roads and hot climate made for sweaty, dirty people.  Sandaled feet took the worst of the dirt.  I would imagine smellyas well.  No one wanted to track dirty feet into someone’s home.  Keeping floors clean was difficult on its own, much less having a dozen men track the sand and dirt from outside into the room where they would eat the most important meal of the year.  Showing honor and hospitality in that part of the world was/is a high, high priority given to guests.  It would be shameful for the host to allow a guest to begin a visit without the best treatment they had to offer.  Jesus would have been the MOST honored guest that night, yet He purposefully took on the most lowly, humble role with His friends.  He put aside His Power and Identity and took on the lowest identity – that of a servant – who has no power at all.
  • “…and dry them with the towel He had tied around His waist.” This task takes time.  Washing….gently working the soap and water between toes, on the soles of each foot, and to the ankle.  It probably required changing the basin’s water many times, especially with 12 men. There is a humbling intimacy that occurs through this experience of having ones feet washed by someone of the home you are visiting.  There is personal care, gentleness, and time given in the process.  It is done with a heart of care and honor to each guest. It is not done quickly, as a dirty task that is finished as hurriedly as possible.  For the recipient, it is humbling.  Imagine the rough shape that open-sandaled feet are in, especially in a hot, dry, rocky land as Israel.  Cuts, bruises, calouses, blisters and hard, crusty skin (I don’t want to even think about the toenail situation)… each foot, by the hand of the host, is lifted, put into the basin of water, gently soaked and washed by the hand of the servant.  Then, the towel is carefully brought out to pat the freshly washed foot until it is dry.

“Jesus knew He had come from God and was going back to God.”   Very soon. Within the next few days.  He knew Who He Was….Whose He Was.  He knew “…everything was put in His [Jesus’] control”  by His Father.  He had the most miraculous, super-human, powerful, perfect Identity that ever walked the earth.  And He knew that these men, dear friends, would woefully fail Him in the coming hours and days.

Yet, in that Identity,  He chose humility, kindness, and love for His friends. He chose to serve them, notbe served by them.

 May we find such confidence in knowing Whose we are, that we can kindly, lovingly serve as Jesus served. . . even those who may hurt and disappoint us most.



  • How do you handle “serving”?
  • When do you struggle with thoughts of “deserving better” than what comes your way?
  • How might Jesus handle “being in your shoes [sandals]” in those moments?




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