THE PRINCE WHO CAME TO SERVE by Justin Holcomb for Core Christianity
When Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he exploded our normal ideas about what God does. Creating, judging, and rewarding are things that sound like divine activities—not eating dinner with prostitutes, going to parties with tax collectors, and cleaning dirt off of people:
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3–5)
Jesus’ lowly service is a practical picture of how Jesus inverts our normal view of authority, dignity, and power. Jesus’ unselfconscious act of service was a picture of God’s upside-down approach to our world and to us. The ultimate picture of this is Jesus’ humbling himself to endure the death of the cross and bring us cleansing through his substitution in our place (Phil. 2:8).
Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky gives us a picture of this upside-down approach in his novel The Idiot. It’s about young Prince Myshkin of Russia, who returns home to society after a long stay abroad. He finds himself surrounded by people who are rage-filled, backbiting, power-hungry, and envious. They struggle for accolades and live like beasts.