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.
We would be remiss, on this Holy Thursday, if we did not ponder on the last supper of the Christ, an early Seder dinner celebrated by Jesus and the twelve, the day before the Passover feast is to begin. Jesus gave two of His disciples explicit instructions on how to locate and arrange the use of a guest room in a family home to celebrate this Passover meal. Later that day, the group arrives, Jesus blesses the food, the group shares a meal while Jesus begins to lay out the road ahead. We see different perspectives of this same story in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Matt 26:17-30, Mk 14:12-26, Lk 22;7-23) In the Gospel of John, however, the focus is different.
We see in our scripture verse today that our focus is on foot washing. It was customary to wash hands prior to eating a meal as well as foot washing due to the wearing of sandals and the dusty conditions of the region. The foot washing duty was usually performed by the most menial of servants. And that’s why looking at Christ washing His disciples’ feet leaves me awestruck.
Once the feet are tenderly washed and wiped and the bread and wine are dispersed, Jesus will tell them that His hour is near, that someone dipping bread with Him will betray Him and before the cock crows three times, Peter will deny Him. Yet all the while He is washing their feet in humility, a servants job, He knew all these things about His disciples, His dear friends, His inner circle. Though He was disappointed at their behavior, that didn’t change His love for them. In our text above it states that Jesus “loved them to the end”. Nothing can change His love for us. Nothing. Jesus loves us period.
When we get attacked, insulted or backstabbed, how do we respond? Do we turn the other cheek? Do we go the extra mile or would we “wash the feet” of the person who hurt us? Do we confuse hurt with hate? It’s easy to do when we are hurt or offended in some manner. I know the more powerful His judge and jury, the more humble Jesus needed to become, even when sentenced to a criminal’s death. How do our actions compare to that when we are crossed? I don’t always measure up to that, that’s for sure. I do want to be more humble like Jesus and will power alone won’t get me there. Staying close to Him will. The closer you stay to someone, the more you begin to take on their characteristics. With Jesus, you can count on it!
We want to become more like your Son, Jesus. Humble, caring, loving, kind are just some of the characteristics that Jesus portrayed to His inner circle of friends and other disciples that He met along the way. Help us to reflect Your love to all we come in contact with. In Jesus Mighty Name we pray,