Original Research - Special Collection: Africa Platform for NT Scholars

Re-examining John 13:1–17 in the context of Nigerian political leadership

Nnamdi U. Ijeudo, Daniel C. Unachukwu
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 3 | a7025 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i3.7025 | © 2022 Nnamdi U. Ijeudo, Daniel C. Unachukwu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 July 2021 | Published: 24 January 2022

About the author(s)

Nnamdi U. Ijeudo, Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria; Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Daniel C. Unachukwu, Department of Religion and Cultural Studies, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria; Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

John 13:1–17 presents a style of leadership that is quite different from the traditional understanding and practice of leadership. This model of leadership in John’s Gospel is manifested in Jesus’ symbolic example of servant leadership, also known as the feet-washing. Feet-washing, generally the responsibility of servants, was seen as a degrading job that even the disciples could not do for their own leader. For Jesus, however, feet-washing is an illustration of humility, genuine love, and service. This article, therefore, is an attempt to critically examine this symbolic act of leadership in the context of John 13:1–17, and its implication on the development of Nigeria. Using the historical-critical exegetical method of analysis, it was discovered that this symbolic act of leadership by Jesus as presented in Johaninne pericope is a challenge to political leaders in Nigeria today. The hermeneutics of the study showed that Nigerian political leaders have displayed leadership styles that are based on selfishness, tyranny, nepotism, and tribalism that are an impediment to peace, stability, and national development. From the findings above, it is recommended, among others, that Nigerian political leaders should see leadership as an opportunity to serve and not as a do-or-die affair. This will improve the attitude, quality of life and inclusive growth in Nigeria.

Contribution: This work critically investigates Jesus’ exemplary act of servant leadership narrated in John 13:1–17 in juxtaposition with Nigerian political leadership. Such an exegetical work is designed so that the present and upcoming political leaders in Nigeria could learn and emulate Jesus’ core qualities, strategies and attitudes that resulted in transforming and improving the lives and well-being of his followers.


Keywords

John 13:1–17; servant leadership; feet-washing; political leadership; Nigeria

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