Jesus said, “I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you… If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (Jn. 13:15, 17).
In the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He seems to have concentrated His time and attention upon His closest disciples. In John’s Gospel, we read about an evening meal during which Jesus took to an awkward task. Jesus – the Son of God, the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah of old – dressed Himself as a lowly servant and did a humiliating chore. In washing the feet of His disciples, He was illustrating His posture in all-of-life and calling His disciples to follow His example.
Christians may rejoice to know that Christ alone has performed the role of savior and redeemer. What joy fills the heart of the sinner who is washed clean by the glorious sacrifice of Christ in their place! Indeed, this cleansing is something only Christ can do.
And yet, it is no contradiction for Christ to summon His disciples to do as He did. The Christian can by no means heal the sick, raise the dead, or atone for sin. But the Christian is called to follow Christ’s example by analogy. As Christ lived (selfless, humble, compassionate, loving, etc.), so too Christians are to live. There is even the promise of blessing from Christ Himself to all who know and do these things.