Matthew 8:14-15 | Luke 10:40-41 | Luke 7:44-46 | John 13:5-14

Allow others the gift of serving.

Jesus showed us not only how to serve, but also how to allow others the gift of serving. That second part can seem kind of strange…

We picture him as one who gave his entire life for others. And that is true. But Jesus had no problems letting others serve him. Here are a few examples:

He was happy to let Peter’s newly healed mother-in-law serve up a meal.

When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him.

Matthew 8:14-15 NLT

He had no problem with Martha cooking a big dinner for everyone, even without the help of her sister.

But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” 

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!”

Luke 10:40-41 NLT

The only problem he had was that she was more concerned about making dinner than about spending quality time with him!

Jesus didn’t mind having his feet freshened up with expensive perfume by an immoral woman who was grateful to have her many sins forgiven. 

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.”

Luke 7:44-46 NLT

Why might it be so hard to accept help, or even let other people serve us? 

In the case of Peter, he seemed to think that footwashing was insulting to someone like Jesus. When Jesus knelt down to wash Peter’s feet, he refused, thinking it put him in a position of superiority to the Son of God.

“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”

 John 13:8a NLT

But Jesus was quick to straighten him out.

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

John 13:8b NLT

Jesus broke the misconception that the servant was the lesser person in a server/servee relationship, showing that service often works from the top down. The master also serves the servant, especially with things that only the master can provide. 

Peter got hung up on the greater/lesser aspect of his relationship with Jesus. What he did not understand was that his washing symbolized forgiveness and renewal, and that only Jesus could perform this service.

You may not realize it, but Jesus serves you every second. If you want to serve him, you have to let him wash you clean so that you belong to him. If you have already done this in a life-changing way, then you are basically clean overall. But as Jesus told Peter, you may still need some cleanup.

Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.”

John 13:10 NLT

This ‘foot-washing’ can take the form of daily forgiveness, and only Jesus can provide it for you. First you have to ask him to do it, then you have to let him.

In a nutshell, Jesus’ message is: Serve and be served…and don’t worry about who is greater or lesser. 

“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.”

John 13:14 NLT

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Do you ever find it hard to let others serve you? When? Why?
  • Do you think that how you accept help/service could be a reflection of your attitude when serving/helping others? If so, can you become a better “server” by being a better “servee”?
  • What does Jesus washing his disciples’ feet say about the role of a leader? Is there shame in being a servant? Is there honor in being served? 

Application: You Got Served!

You may not want to admit it, but you get served every day. Ooh, burn! 

At first, we thought of challenging you to find ways for people to serve you. Then we woke up… That was a terrible idea! Because if you’re honest, you know that people already serve you constantly throughout the day.

Therefore, we offer this exercise to help you understand the extent to which you are served every day. And it is a simple exercise: spend a day noting when and how people serve you (as a warm up), then spend another day doing it (now that you’ve gotten some practice).

Below are some suggestions:

  • Use a note app on your phone, or carry a small notebook and pencil in your pocket.
  • Be sure to note the service right away (so you don’t forget)
  • If you have not made any notes for a while, ask yourself these questions: 
    • Is anyone being served here?
    • If so, who’s serving who?
  • BONUS: Note your attitude toward accepting each service. Are some easier than others?