Then (Jesus) poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
We find joy in serving because that is what our teacher and Lord does. There’s an old Hebrew saying, “May you carry the dust of your rabbi.” This is a way of saying that you behave just like your rabbi. Back in the time of Jesus, rabbis would have students follow them and they would walk as close as they could. Close enough to the rabbi that they would be covered in the dust thrown up by the rabbi’s feet. At the end of the day they were covered in the dust of their rabbi. This is also a simile for following your rabbi so closely that you behave and you teach the way he does. If your rabbi teaches love and grace then you teach love and grace. If your rabbi serves and cares for the poor, the widow, the sick, the orphan, the foreigner, the imprisoned, the hungry, and the outcast, then you serve and care for the poor, the widow, the sick, the orphan, the foreigner, the imprisoned, the hungry, and the outcast. “May you carry the dust of your rabbi.”
In this rabbi dust, this Jesus dust of serving, we find joy. Those who have served know the feeling you get when you help another just because Jesus called you to do it. Often I will visit someone who is no longer able to serve as they used to. They would lament the fact that they can no longer serve. I then take the opportunity to say, “Remember the joy that you received when you were able to serve others? Your way of serving now is to give others the opportunity to serve you and receive that same joy!” When we look at it this way, we find joy in serving and being served! Share the joy, serve one another, and reach out to serve the other in the world that needs you.
May we be covered in the dust of our Rabbi.