Ready John 13.
"Jesus knew that his hour had come." All the details concerning the crucifixion that had been planned in eternity past will take place the next day. This was a prime opportunity for Jesus to instruct and prepare the disciples for what was coming. He had much to say. But what He did set the tone for His messages.
Jesus began to perform the menial task of washing the disciples' dirty feet. That was a common practice due to sandals being the usual footwear. In the culture, this was the job a servant would have done, not the positional leader. Peter objected to the Son of God stooping to was his feet. Jesus immediately moved the conversation from physical cleansing to spiritual cleansing of sin.
Our initial and total washing is the experience of salvation in Christ. "He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5) Subsequently, Christians do sin and need regular cleaning from walking around in this world. But we do not need a salvation bath again; just our feet washed, so to speak. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
There are only two places in the Bible where Jesus is called our example. The first one is here.
1. Serving others.
"For I have given you an example..." (v.15) He had every right to demand that someone, anyone else should wash His feet. But He demonstrated in an unforgettable way how a godly person is to act. Jesus had already taught this lesson before in Matthew 20:25-26. "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant." Servant-leadership is not an option among believers. It is acting like Jesus.
2. Suffering injustice.
1 Peter was written to encourage those who endured hardships and mistreatment because of their faith in Christ. Specifically, the Holy Spirit directed Peter to address the ultimate human injustice of slavery. "For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you and example, so that you might follow in his steps." (1 Peter 2:19-21)
Following the example of Jesus and living "in his steps" is no picnic. It is a test of our sincere faith. As He did, we must be willing to lay aside our rights and to discipline ourselves for the purposes of bringing glory to God and serving the needs of others. These acts become the proofs of 13:34-35. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have love you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."