Jesus as the Immanuel revealed to the people of God a relational behavior by which we can live in response to the gospel.
Though the Jews had a nationalistic concept concerning the coming of the Messiah, there was still the need for the incarnation. They erroneously believed that the Messiah would come in order to deliver them from their oppressors. But they had a limited concept concerning the origin and purpose of this Messiah. According to their beliefs, the Messiah would simply be a man born of a woman who would rise to prominence among the Jews just as Moses. Their understanding that this Messiah would actually be an incarnation of God was not in their thinking. It was a mystery that was kept from the minds of men until He was revealed and experience (Ep 3:3-5; 1 Pt 1:10-12).
When Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit knew that we needed a living example to usher us through this world. We needed more than a good religious leader who was born to a carpenter of Nazareth, and then would pronounce theological dictates to the people. We needed an incarnate God who would give us the purest form of discipleship that would be the model for all men. Therefore, Jesus’ statement of John 13:15 reveals the example of what gospel living demands: “For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you.”
When Jesus made this statement, He, as the incarnate Son of God, had just washed the feet of the disciples. These were the same disciples who considered Him to be their Lord and Teacher (Jn 13:13). So Jesus said to them, “If I then, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13:14). We are now at the table as invited guests, and it is Jesus the Messiah who led by giving us examples of service (See Mk 10:44,45; Lk 22:27). As His disciples, we must do likewise.
Jesus’ washing of the feet of the disciples in the John 13 context, therefore, is quite incomprehensible. He was the Creator of the dirty feet He washed (Cl 1:16). And yet, He as the Creator was on His knees washing the feet of man. This example of servanthood surpasses any example that man could possibly give for others to follow. If God can wash our dirty feet, then we have no excuse whatsoever not to serve others as He served us.