John 13: 1-17
1 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.
I find it interesting that there was no recorded dialog with the rest of the disciples as he washed their feet. Only Peter’s conversation was recorded for eternity and it seems such a simple exchange but was full of emotion. I have been in what is called “a good ole foot washing service”. It was a very intimate women’s group and the leaders washed the feet of those in attendance. It was symbolic, simple and powerful. I can still feel the emotion and power from that one service all these years later.
Jesus humbled himself to the position of a servant to express a powerful truth in a way that they would understand. I can imagine Peter’s emotions as the Lord of hosts became a servant and washed His dirty feet. I can imagine his emotions when Jesus said that Peter had to allow him to wash his feet so that could have part in him. His love for Jesus was so great that he couldn’t bear the idea of being without him even though that was the very thing that was about to happen. I can sense the silence and awe as the master became the servant before their very eyes. (This was a job for the servants of the house) One thing we can draw from this is that to lead well, we must also serve those whom we lead. You have to have a genuine love for those Jesus has sent you to serve otherwise you will not be able to serve them and will resent the very people you are sent to help.
My pastor is a wonderful example of this love. I have watched him love on people that were in a mess, difficult and broken. He has loved me through some very difficult times, even when I refused to let him in. He loved me through it and stood outside the walls I had put up to keep from being hurt by others until I let him in. Great patience and love is part of his beautiful gifting.
I remember one day I was trying so hard to be strong. I was broken and hurting trying to act normal at a church dinner for my son because it was important for him to be around godly people. As we sat there, my son and I alone on the other side of the table, he leaned over and said to me, “you know we love you right?”. That was the most out of place random thing he could have said to me. I’m sure the look on my face expressed fully what I was thinking. He simply sat back up and continued eating as though nothing was said. I sat there contemplating this situation. His love reached right through my pain and walls and drew me out. I can’t imagine where I would be right now without him doing that one little thing and truly loving my son and I. Love doesn’t always look like we expect it to look.