The Backwards Kingdom
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” —Philippians 2:5-8
Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. Old news to us … but when it happened, it was seismic.
John details how Jesus literally entered the role of the commonest laborer.
First, He took off his “outer clothing.” On the upper part of their bodies, people wore a long, flowing garment, called a tallith. Nice-looking, but you couldn’t work in it — it would get wet and dirty. When you took off your tallith, all that was left was a tunic.
Then Jesus wrapped a towel around His waist … not a bath towel, but a longer piece of fabric that typically served as an apron. This towel was called a lention — the ancient emblem of the servant … the symbol of servanthood.
Peter freaked out as Jesus began work. “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” he demanded, horrified.
It was the equivalent of “Wait, what’s wrong with this picture?” Peter understood the earthly concept of the inferior serving the superior. Jesus was his superior, so the idea of Jesus washing his feet didn’t add up.
But what Peter didn’t understand was God’s economy. In God’s economy, the servant is richer than the one being served. God designed us for servanthood, and because of this, we actually thrive more when we’re serving than when we’re being served.
“No way,” Peter insisted, “you shall never wash my feet.”
But Jesus, the servant-King, knew Peter had to get this. You must grasp this — down is up; out is in; this is the backwards kingdom. “Unless I wash you,” Jesus told him, “you have no part with me.”
Peter wasted no time. “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
He wanted everything Jesus had to offer — and fast.
If I want to become like Christ, I will rush to participate in God’s economy. I will hurry to serve, because I will see servanthood as the way to get under the spigot of God’s blessing!
My prayer this week: God, please don’t let me miss out on your blessings by avoiding servanthood opportunities. Give me everything you’ve got, and quickly! I know I don’t always understand what you’re doing in me, but help me trust you fully and step up to every challenge, for your glory.