“And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare [the passover meal]?
"And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.
(I know he's not carrying a pitcher...but I really like the expression on this water-carrier's face.)
"And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished; there make ready.”
Luke 22: 9-12
What we know:
In this household, a man or manservant was not above doing service in the form of unconventional work or traditional women's work in order to maintain the well-being of the people living there. There is an indication here of a household that is more interested in working for the benefit of the group as a whole than it is in maintaining appearances or maintaining traditional hierarchical patterns that designated some tasks as "beneath one's dignity".
Jesus did not name the goodman (head of the household) of the house when he gave his disciples the information they needed to locate him.. It was a man that the disciples did not know by name, though likely Jesus did.
The goodman was a man who recognized Christ as “the Master” and was readily willing to welcome other of his disciples, whom he did not know personally, to use a room in his home for worship.
And it was in this house, where a goodman readily welcomed others to worship, and where household members were humbly willing to serve, regardless of the opinions of others or traditional views of who is supposed to do what, that Jesus, washing his disciples' feet, again taught his most powerful lesson on servanthood and leadership.
He had taught it earlier: “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” Matthew 23:11
They had not yet understood this fully. Peter's strong, initial objection when Jesus started to wash his feet indicates that he was still too aware of conventional ideas about leadership to fully accept the idea that true leaders engaged in activities that were considered “beneath them”.
And therefore, Jesus' words:
“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”
There is a correlation, perhaps, between the master who washed his disciples feet, and the man who worked in the house where He did so and who carried the woman's water jug to the well and back. Both were undertaking humble service that was considered beneath them by those who embraced what followers of traditional rules of hierarchy expected of them.
And I find it telling that this household, where a man was not too proud to serve others by doing work that others would consider “beneath him”, and where unknown believers were welcomed, was the place where the first recorded ordinance of the Sacrament was performed. Those qualities of humility, service and welcome that seem to have been part of the culture of the household where the first breaking of bread in remembrance of Him occurred are what I think Jesus hopes and expects in the culture of those of us who are part of a any congregation that partakes of communion/sacrament in remembrance of Him.
The goodman and his servant created and maintained that culture in their sphere. Do we?