Absolute Authority

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13:3–5, esv).

John 13 records a poignant story. Jesus—the Son of God, the King of the universe—strips off His outer garments, wraps a towel around His waist, and kneels before His disciples (read: His students, His followers) to wash their dirty, smelly feet. Knowing full well that within a matter of hours one would betray Him and the others would desert Him, still He knelt and served.

When we read the foot-washing story, we have to wonder, How did He do that? How did Jesus, the Highest One, lower Himself to the place of the lowest servant? How did the Best One kneel and wash 24, dirty, stinky, undeserving feet? John 13:3 reveals His secret—a deep, unshakable sense of authority and identity. In effect, He knew, I have the big picture. Everything is in My hands. And I know who I am.

In order to humble ourselves to serve like Jesus did, we need the same perspective.

Look at His sense of absolute authority. In Jesus’ mind the outcome was ensured. He had unwavering confidence in God’s promises. Jesus knew the Father had given all things into His hands, and He knew how this was going to end.

In the same way, when you focus on God’s promises, you too can have authority in the midst of everyday life. Today may be a horrible day, this may be a rotten month, a hard year or even decade, but you know how it will ultimately end because God always keeps His Word (Jeremiah 1:12). Jesus’ authority was secure, and when you trust in the truths of Scripture, so is yours.

You will win. Isaiah 54:17 offers an incredible promise of victory: “No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” Enough said.

You will exult. The word exult evokes the idea of a lively, triumphant, elated victory dance. If you lean into God when you face trials, you will exult over your enemy. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (Romans 16:20).

You can wait for God’s timing. You may feel you need your problems solved today, but you don’t. You can wait for His perfect timing and look for what He’s doing right now. “Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Like your Master, your sense of authority can be secure, enabling you to trust Him and serve freely. Get this into your theology. Jesus’ authority was secure—and so is yours. You know Whose you are and where you’re going, so humble yourself. In your marriage, in your finances, in your family, in your workplace, motivated by your authority as a blood-bought son or daughter of the living God: trust in His Word, get low, and serve.


  • Which of God’s promises do you need to focus on so you can lay hold of the deep, abiding sense of authority He has for you?
  • “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6). Ask the Holy Spirit how He wants you to humble yourself before Him and before others today. What is He revealing?

God, thank You that Your Word gives us insights for life. Thank You for telling me what was running through Jesus’ mind before He washed the disciples’ feet. Lord, I know my life is secure in Your hands, and You will keep Your promises. Because of that, I can humble myself—before You as Lord and Master, and before others. I choose to humble myself, here and now, and to look for humble ways to serve you today. In the name of Jesus, the Servant-King, amen.