Jesus’ life shows the kind of power God exercises and how humans experience and participate in this power. The audience Jesus dealt with were crushed under the oppressive Roman rule, which exerted its form of peace with the power of a sword. Any form of dissent was silenced by imprisonment and death.
As Jesus proclaimed the message of the kingdom of God, people’s aspirations were aroused, for they were waiting for the Messiah to deliver them from their oppression. Some entertained the idea to fight against the oppressor or exert subtle resistance. The temptation for the oppressed to imitate the abuse of power by the oppressor is very enticing. So happily, Jesus’ disciples asked the question, “Who is the greatest among us?” Jesus’ way of exercising power was amazingly baffling to all who witnessed it. Jesus reversed the existing mindset by the example of feet washing.
Jesus tied a towel around his waist and began to wash his disciples’ feet. Peter was shocked and refused that Jesus washes his feet. Jesus told Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8). Jesus says the same to us, let me wash you of notions of power which are self-serving and demonic. Jesus showed that real power involves love for the other, service and sacrifice. Jesus’ way is full of grace and truth. Jesus calls to practice truth amid deception, justice amid injustice and peace amid violence.
God is the source of all power, which is why we need humility. Jesus told Pilate, who was judging the Judge of all humanity: “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. (John 19:11).
Jesus stood for the voiceless, the insignificant children, the despised widows and women who were the marginalised. A disciple of Christ must always leave behind footprints of service and sacrifice. Is Jesus our model for the use of power?