It’s before the Passover feast and Jesus and the disciples are gathered for a meal. Jesus’ mind is filled with lots of things. He knows His hour has come to return to the Father. This might have been some comfort but surely He knew the path He must take to get there too. He knew the Father had given Him all things – including these men He dearly loved. And I believe He dearly loved Judas even though He knew the Devil had won him over and he would be the betrayer.
Jesus, fully aware of all these things, out of love, begins to teach His disciples the God way of living. One must first be a Servant.
In Bible times people wore sandals and walked everywhere and the roads were dirt so their feet got dirty. It was the job of a slave or servant to wash the feet of any guests who entered the home. They probably did not sit in chairs around a table like in Da Vinci’s Last Supper where they are seated at an Italian 15th Century table. More likely they “reclined” or around a low table – think Mulan. The feet being clean would have been important and otherwise maybe offensive.
So Jesus gets up and takes on this lowly task. The disciples are stunned but they all let Him do it – that is until He comes to Peter. The others may have thought it but Peter says what he is thinking – “no way are you washing my feet.” Peter is observing the game rules – if you’re the Master you can’t act like the slave – sorry. But Jesus is changing the rules and I love Peter is a fast learner. With a little new information he goes from all out to all in. He’s a zealot :)
Jesus is the consummate teacher: “I appreciate your heart in this Peter but here’s how it works. There is big cleaning and little cleaning. You only need little cleaning. There is one who is not clean but it’s not you.”
(I’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb but there is the road dirt of my human failings that are best washed daily.)
After Jesus returns to his place He explains His illustration. “You call me your teacher and you are right. So I want you to live like I have lived. If I am the Master and have acted like a servant to you, I want you to act like servants to each other.” This might have been a little revolutionary considering the other rabbis at the time were not likely to lower themselves this way. Jesus was definitely different and all that comes to me is LOVE. He acts out of love – always out of love. “You will be blessed if you do them.” (Blessed – being in the enviable position of having God’s favor. That’s something I would be foolish to turn down!)
It is love too that prompts His mention of a betrayer so they won’t be shaken later when it happens. Instead He wants them to see all that happens as confirmation “that I am He.” (This is a mind expanding idea – can I embrace the yucky stuff, trusting God has a plan? Oh, I can quote the verse: Romans 8:28, right? But Lord help me lean into that verse and put my full weight on it when things look shaky.)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” This seems like a clue to the disciples’ future. They will be sent out just like Jesus was sent. And here is the power of it…if anyone receives you they will receive me. Just like all the times Jesus has said “you must receive me to receive the Father who sent me” now they will become the messengers. And what kind of messengers is He asking for…those who will serve out of love. (Lord, there is a big difference between serving because there is a job to do and serving because l love. I am not Mother Theresa by a long shot. Yeah, but You know that. You made me a certain way for certain works you have already prepared for me. Help me to love You well and I think the rest will follow.)
Everything God does is motivated by His love for us.
If I live the way Jesus leads then Jesus goes where I go.
About the World?
For God so loved the world…