“I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16)
Why is Yahushua saying this after he washed his disciples’ feet?
Yahushua was trying to teach his disciples to become humble servants – just as Yahushua saw Himself as a humble servant of His Father, YHWH and also as a servant of His chosen People.
Being someone else’s servant requires humility.
Most of us living within the physical realm do not want to be anyone’s servant. We don’t want to be humble. Here we want to be the boss, the political leader, the star, the CEO, or the head of the family.
As a society, we promote pride rather than humility. Here we are proud of our country. We are proud of our accomplishments. We want our kids to be proud of themselves. Here we seek pride, but not humility. And this is why we are here in the Earthly Kingdom, and not with YHWH in the Heavenly Kingdom.
Our pride comes from a false sense of ownership. We think that we own the stuff of the physical world. We think we own our lands, our resources, the animals, our kids and our history. And this is why we fight each other over territory, money, people and resources. We think we own this stuff.
And we think the skills and intelligence we used to produce our accomplishments came from us.
But none of this actually comes from us – we actually own nothing. We can know that we do not own anything here because we each have to leave these things at the time of death.
Ownership requires control. We do not control the things we think we own, because we ultimately lose them, either during our lifetimes or at the time of death.
YHWH is the only owner and the source of everything. Since He is the only person who controls everything, only He can own it.
Therefore, all of our fighting over territory, money and resources is all in vain (read Ecclesiastes). We are struggling over YHWH’s property.
And this also goes for certain “promised” lands.
But it requires humility to realize this. It requires a person to humbly accept that we do not control anything, and therefore, we have no ownership. And we cannot be proud of anything.
And as far as servants, each of us is a servant whether we like it or not. Most of us here are the servants of our physical senses and mind. We serve whatever will please our senses and mind. We want sensual pleasures in the form of eating, sex, music, visual beauty and so on. And whatever our mind suggests us to do, we do it (again, read Ecclesiastes).
If our mind tells us that we will be happy if we become famous, we slave away for years to become famous. If our mind tells us we’ll be happy if we become a big politician or CEO, we slave for years to achieve that. If our mind tells us that we’ll be happy when we get a family and a house with a white picket fence, we slave away for years to accomplish those things (Gosh! Just read Ecclesiastes).
Then once we get those things, instead of becoming happy, we become their servants. When we get our family and house with the white picket fence we have to serve the family and slave away at maintaining the house. When we get famous we have to perform services to keep our fans happy. When we get our big political job we have to serve our constituents. When we get our CEO job we have to serve the stockholders. When we get the sensual things that we thought would make us happy, we become addicted to those sensual pleasures. They all become our masters, and we become their servants.
This is because by nature, we are all servants. We are not self-sufficient. YHWH created each of us to be His loving servant, caregiver of all He created and friend. We were created to love Him. We were created to need Him.
But He also gave us the choice to serve Him and care for Him…or not.
But if we choose not to be YHWH’s servant, this doesn’t wipe out our nature as servants and caregivers. We might be in the illusion that we are no one’s servant or caregiver, but we can never escape our nature. Therefore, our nature requires us to serve something or someone else.
Yahushua is describing the master/servant relationship allegorically here. He is professing the importance of humility to becoming the loving servant of the Father. In order to become YHWH’s loving servant, we must accept first that we are not in control, and that we own nothing. Then we must accept His superiority and His control.
At the same time, the kind of servitude Yahushua is discussing here is not a master/slave relationship. No one forced Yahushua to wash the feet of His disciples. Yahushua was illustrating the meaning of loving service.
And herein lies the secret of our situation. We are in control of only one thing: CHOICE…our FREE WILL…whether we choose to love and serve YHWH or not. If we choose not to love and serve YHWH, we WILL love and serve our senses and mind, and by virtue of that, serve those that result from serving these “masters.”
Having the choice to serve YHWH means that service to YHWH is not slavery. Nor is it indentured service.
Slavery means we have no choice.
And indentured service means getting something in return.
An indentured servant is someone who becomes obligated to their master, while the master gives the servant something in return. It is a contract. A sort of business relationship – although one that has been abused by many in the past.
This type of service – as displayed by many FALSE teachers in Modern Christianity who “suggest” service to Yahushua (charitable acts, giving money, etc.) in order to receive salvation, blessings, or even prosperity in return – is also not the loving service Yahushua was teaching about.
Yahushua’s disciples – and each of us – have the choice of becoming loving servants of YHWH, the Father…or not. Such a relationship is based not on slavery or getting something in return, but on love.
A person who falls in love with someone can also become that person’s servant. Such service is loving service. Loving service is not based upon the expectation of any return. Nor is it by contract or for any other reward. Loving service is performed simply to please the one who is being loved.
This is the type of service Yahushua is referring to, and the type of service that Yahushua performed on behalf of the Father, whom He loved.
This type of loving service requires humility, and this is why Yahushua talks about “no servant” being “greater than his master.” Yet the humility of YHWH’s loving servant is not related to fear. This is not like the humility of a slave who could be mistreated or abused if they didn’t do their service.
The type of humility that Yahushua is referring to is loving YHWH so much that there is no regard for self when it comes to pleasing Him. It is the humility of needing the Father. Depending upon the Father. Relying upon the Father. This is what takes place in a loving relationship.
Yahushua also talks about “a messenger” not being “greater than the one who sent him.” This brings another dimension to what Yahushua is trying to communicate. Not only does he see Himself – and wants his disciples to see themselves – as humble loving servants of YHWH. He also sees Himself, and wants his disciples to see themselves as humble messengers of YHWH. In other words, their service to YHWH is their becoming His messengers.
How do we know that Yahushua saw himself as YHWH’s messenger? We can see this by other statements Yahushua made about Himself:
“When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the One who sent me.” (John 12:44)
“I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the One who sent me.” (John 7:33)
“I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the One who sent me.” (John 13:20)
Yahushua’s statements are obviously referring to Yahushua being sent by the Father to teach. This is the meaning of a messenger: Someone who is sent by another to deliver a message…who can also be a representative who stands for the one who sent them (Luke 20:13).
We can see from these that not only does Yahushua see Himself as a humble messenger/representative of the Father, but in the last statement (John 13:20) He indicates that those students Yahushua sends out to teach others (“anyone I send”) will also be messengers of the Father because they are passing along the same teachings Yahushua is passing on – which were also the same teachings of all the teachers that preceded Yahushua, including Abraham, Moses, Eli, Samuel, David, John the Baptist and others.
And what are these teachings? What is that message YHWH is sending us through His representatives? What is the message YHWH sent through Yahushua – with not only His teachings but by His actions and ultimate sacrifice?
“You shall love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
“‘Love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 23:37-38)