The scene is set in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem, the evening before Jesus was put to death. During the Last Supper he behaved in what to his disciples seemed to be a most bizarre way; he stooped to wash their feet. If you employed a slave, this was a task he performed. Hence the disciples were surprised when Jesus, their teacher, did this. No wonder Peter objected, not realising the significance of what Jesus was doing.
Jesus performed these simple, dramatic and memorial actions to demonstrate the chief characteristic of his ministry, humbly serving others. It was also a vivid reminder to his disciples that they should serve one another and by implication this should be so of their relationships with other people.
Please note: Introducing pupils to the theological basis and historical background to the story as well as comparing versions of the story using different translations of the Christian Bible grows confidence in exploring Christian teaching, beliefs and practices as well as deepens understanding. Please click on the scripture reference under Humility on the menu bar.
Jesus as the ultimate role model for Christians and others. Jesus showed all these qualities in his life on earth, as part of God’s greatest act of love – God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, as a sacrifice for the sins of all humankind, that all might be saved and have eternal life, through faith in Christ as a personal saviour, and the work of the Holy Spirit be enabled to show the same love to others. Having an attitude of humility was a quality within this unconditional love. Jesus was known by his disciples and others that met him while he was on earth, for consistently showing humility towards others.
Jesus lived a life of unconditional love towards people– giving every day during his life on earth to teaching people how to love one another, by setting an example for people to follow.
Christian Values for schools website has more theological background on values including humility. Click on the following link to the website, enter the site and scroll down to ‘humility’. http://christianvaluesforschools.com/