John 13 (The Message)
1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.
3-6 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”
7 Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”
8 Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”
Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
9 “Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”
10-12 Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.
12-17 Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
Jesus is in his last few hours on earth. Judas is soon to go out and betray him. The disciples have finish the last meal with Jesus. According to Luke 22 they’ve just indulged each other in a conversation over who among them is the greatest.
This is the beginning of the Passion week but it is going to move really fast for Jesus and His disciples. So, what does Jesus do here as he hears the Disciples volleying statements about their greatness. He models servanthood in profound way. Never forget. Jesus’ model has weight. He gets down and does something only servants did in that day did. Though it was not exactly the time to do so, all the more reason the statement He made to them and to us is so profound.
Washing feet is something the lowest servant of the home or you do for yourself as you enter a home in Jewish culture. They’ve been in the home some time by now. Maybe they washed their feet as they entered, not sure. But at this time, Jesus removes his outer garment, stoops, and begins.
Please note the contrast. Please see the bigness of His act. Here, the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, bows lower than the Disciples and does the most servant like thing He could have done for them–He washes their feet.
From the world’s view, this act is very insignificant. But this small act represents so much of the message Jesus delivered. God loves us! The God in the heavens has come down in flesh and blood to visit and commune with us. The God of the Universe, creator of all, wants a relationship with us, His men and His women. His chosen.
Jesus knew this, His men needed a visible demonstration of love, so He got up from the meal and began to serve them, to show what He was about to do on the Cross for them and us. He also wanted to demonstrate what they were to be, as they become more committed followers of Him. Truly, it took total commitment to follow Him. They failed the two first tests. They kept falling asleep as He asked them to pray in the Garden and they fled the scene when He needed them most. But the Spirit came, transformed these humble men. They became men and women who went on to turn the world upside down.
I will not go on here. I want to focus on the applications in this passage. Please read John 13 again.
The disciples have just argued over who will be the greatest–a subject far from the act of humility that Jesus modeled before them. What are you thinking and feeling in response to this scene?
Jesus knows who He is. He knows who his Father is and what His role is here. How does His knowing these things empower Jesus to lower Himself, pick up the basin and wash their feet?
How does knowing who you are and who your Father is empower you to love and serve your brothers and sisters in deeper ways?
What is it like for you when Christ comes to you to enter into the dirty parts of your life to love you, serve you, and cleanse you?
What has it been like for you to vulnerably open yourself up to the love of God through your brothers or sisters around you or in your group now or in the past?
How has your life been cleansed, washed, and refreshed?
How has this affect your ability to vulnerably relate to others in your life?
Thank God for Jesus’ model to you and to His people. Thank Him for the people His has given you to love and nurture you. How can you “wash their feet” today? Is He calling you to serve someone today in a new, a fresh way? Is He calling you to help someone fulfill what God is calling them out to do today? You can be that person to others. As you go, seek to express your love and protection in tangible ways in your domain.