John 13: 1 - 17
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
The Gospel of John is the only one that tells us of the footwashing. Jesus speaks, telling his disciples that he has set an example for them...the example of service to others.
I don't think John brings Jesus' actions to our attention so that we will brag on Jesus for being a thoughtful and compassionate person. This text in it's self is not so much about actually watching Jesus put his hands on somebody
else's feet but about letting Jesus put his hands on our feet. This thought will no doubt make some of you uncomfortable. Although you may attribute it to the "state" of your feet, that's not the real reason. We don't want Him handling our feet because, if we do, we must also allow Him to touch our will. Our feet allow us the freedom of action. Going from point A to point B. We have a hard time turning our "free will" over to someone else...even Jesus. We know that, if He washes us, he may scrub away our closely held insecurities, to
wash away our weariness, to buff off our bitterness. It should not be hard for us, He is God after all. If we don't open ourselves to Jesus cleaning our feet, our story with Him stops as we will have choosen to ignore his admonition to Peter "Unless I wash you, you
have no share in me".
If you remember the words from John, you know that just before Jesus sets about His task, He says to His disciples, "Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me."
So it isn't just Jesus we see taking off his robe and kneeling before us, it is God Himself. Think of your image of the Eternal God. It can be absolutely mind blowing to picture Jesus asking for the honor and privilege of washing our feet. But we must...because in doing so, we agree to accompany Him when His feet walk that long, painful, sacrificial road alone.