Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Mary washed the feet of Jesus. Neither event was all about Jesus.

I wrote that on my Facebook wall today and someone asked me what it meant.. others mentioned they had not thought about that before. Usually one will read or hear about one story or the other. People know that Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and people know that Mary washed his feet with her hair and used her finest oils.

I have never heard any pastor talk about the 2 in the same sermon or in a discussion group. They are usually talked about in separate contexts. Rarely together which I find unusual. They are similar events. They are about servant hood. At one event, Jesus is the servant and at the other event he is being served. I find that important to look at.

We as women spend a lot of time serving. I think that many of us think of ourselves more as Mary. Giving our finest and our all to others. We might think that Jesus washing the disciples feet was a symbolic gesture of how we should serve each other. Both of these events are symbolic but what does it mean that these events were not all about Jesus.

Jesus was not isolated. He had a profound impact on those around him as a teacher and a leader. As a leader he cannot expect others to do what he himself is not willing to do. He also was willing to accept the service of others when they desired to serve him.

I have spent much of my life serving others; my family, friends, co workers… yet for a long time I didn’t feel that people should serve me… but then here’s Jesus who is willing to be at both ends of service.

When you are always serving, your cup will always be empty. When you do not accept the service of others, you will have nothing to give to others it’s inevitable that you will crash and burn. On the other hand, when you are willing to let others serve you and you do not serve others yourself, your cup will be overflowing and the excess will go to waste. It does not take much effort to serve others generally. There are times when it’s truly a sacrifice to serve others.

I have a friend who is always serving others. She has 4 daughters and a husband and 2 dogs. She serves in her community and ministries. She looks for marginalized people to serve. Yet she rarely does much for herself so today I decided to treat her to a pedicure. I could tell she felt a bit uneasy being served by the manicurist but it was something I wanted to do for her because she does so much for me and others. It was great to be able to spend time with her with no interrupting kids or friends.

Not only did I get to spend time with her, and she got a relaxing pedicure which she very much deserved, but it helped to support a local business. In this economy there are people who are having difficulties. The service involved many people. I enjoyed a pedicure, my friend enjoyed one, we got some quality time together, I got to see my other friend who owns the business and I got to put 2 of her employees to work at an otherwise dead time of day. It’s win-win. It feels good to serve, it feels good to receive service and it’s great to have support.

Our lives need a healthy balance of service… both ways.. serving and being served.