It all began with a laundry basket filled with a mountain of towels that needed to be folded. There were bath towels and hand towels and dish towels. After folding, I placed clean hand towels by the sink for anyone to use after washing their hands. I made sure there were fresh bath towels on the rod beside the shower. The kitchen needed a new supply of dish towels to be used throughout the day. The remainder of the neatly folded towels were put on the shelves in the linen closet for later use.
Bath towels – hand towels – kitchen towels – but there is still another kind of towel. It is the towel Jesus wore and used when He washed the feet of His disciples. This is the servant towel. (so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:4-5) This towel was more than a piece of terry cloth because it served as a symbol of servanthood. (For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45) As a servant of His Heavenly Father, Jesus was soon to fulfill the task of dying for the sins of all mankind. At this moment, Jesus was serving the disciples by cleansing them of sin as well as washing their dirty feet. Jesus used a towel that cleansed of unrighteousness and sin. (Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” – John 13:10-11) This towel was an example of the tool the disciples were to use in relating to other people in the future. (When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. – John 113:12-17) Putting Jesus’ example into practical terms for myself, I ask some questions regarding my household towels. Am I a servant when I am folding a mountain of towels? Am I a servant when I place clean towels in the appropriate places? Am I a servant when I use a towel?
According to the scripture of John 13:4 previously quoted, Jesus not only used this towel to dry the disciples’ feet but He wrapped it around himself. This towel was more than a piece of terry cloth because Jesus was inside the towel. Jesus became part of the towel. I wonder if Jesus is wrapped up in the towels found in our home. Is He wrapped up in the purpose and use of our towels? I like the image of myself being enfolded in the arms of Jesus when I wrap myself in a bath towel after a shower. The image of Jesus holding me in His arms of love creates a feeling of warmth inside me. (He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. – Isaiah 40:11) Our hand towels often seem to clean off excess dirt as well as dry off water as everyone who uses these towels may not have washed their hands thoroughly. This function of the hand towel reminds me that Jesus cleanses me of the dirt of sin. (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:9 NKJV) My dish towel dries the droplets of remaining water from clean dishes in the sink. These droplets look resemble tears for me. Whether these tears are mine or someone else’s, Jesus extends a towel of compassion to those in need. (He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:4)
While wrapping up my thoughts about the scripture of John 13:4-5 and folding my remaining towels, I am reminded of words by Ann Voskamp. “Jesus Christ still wears a towel around His waist, bent in service to His people…in service to me, as I serve, that I need never serve in my own strength.” I am both challenged and comforted by her comment. I am challenged to follow Jesus’ example of serving others. And I am comforted knowing that when I serve I do not have to rely upon only my own strength. There are times when I feel like I have too many towels to fold, but then I remember Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” I want to be enfolded in the towel of Jesus for strength to serve others. Jesus wore the servant’s towel and washed His disciples’ feet both as a physical act and a spiritual act. I want to follow His example; I want to be a servant physically and spiritually.
My Reader, do you want a towel?