Nike’s slogan “Just Do It!” has been around since 1987. However, I want you to know that Jesus said the essence of this 2000 years earlier: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 17:17). In other words, Jesus said, “If you want to be my servant—then just do the things I do.”
When Jesus said this, he was at the end of his earthly life, and he knew the end was near. He wanted to communicate the most important things to his followers. Chief among those things was what his disciples would do after he was gone. How would they represent him?
A person’s last words are powerful. I remember my last words with my father and his last words to me. I had just spent a week with him, but as I returned home, he worsened. My sister told me that he was going fast but that he was expecting me to come back. I thought about trying to get to California, but I decided to have my last words with him on the phone vs. not having any at all. We talked as he was weak but very coherent, but as we came to the end of the conversation. He said, “I love you, son,” and I responded, “I love you, daddy.” Then I told him to go home—go to your heavenly home, and I will follow you soon.” He went very fast after that.
Here in John 13 are Jesus’ last words and actions. Unannounced, Jesus demonstrated humility by washing his disciples’ feet. There were dirty feet, and no one else wanted to wash them, so he picked up the towel and set about the task. Jesus is God, and knowing what was ahead, he deserved to be waited on and treated with honor, but he, without resentment, did what needed to be done—that is, strength and humility.
Humility cannot be experienced in the forest by yourself but only in interaction with others. Humility can only be experienced through service. That is why Jesus said, “Just do it!” “Do what I have done—to each other! We don’t pick and choose whom we serve—we serve whomever God puts in our path. Some may be more lovely than others, but humility does not reject. The Lord washed all their feet! Jesus lived out humility, and he demonstrated it is possible to overcome pride.
Jesus hated the pride that pretends to be humble. He wants the real thing. If we want authenticity, then let us strive to be like Jesus. Once when I was working at my computer, one of my little granddaughters was sitting in my lap. She was digging in my shirt pocket. As I looked out of my eye, I watched the stuff extracted piece by piece from my pocket. She meticulously examined each piece; my glasses, pens, and papers, and I thought that was all I had, but she kept putting her little hand deep into my pocket. I didn’t pay much attention because I thought she had pretty well cleaned me out. After a few minutes, I noticed she was quiet. I looked down at her, and she had found a toothpick and had it in the corner of her mouth exactly the way I do. The one thing we want to do is learn to imitate Christ and not this world. We want to learn to imitate him and not the people around us. We also want to live so that those who are watching us will be imitating Christ when they imitate us. I want to live so that my kids and grandkids will imitate how I live for Christ.