John, The Love of God
How much we love each other here on earth is measured by how much we understand the love God has for us. Jesus demonstrate that love in an act that is recorded in this gospel. John’s writes so we will know the love of God fully and love like He loved. John shows us that love is a verb, an action, in the way Jesus served those He loved dearly.
ALL the disciples are gathered for the Passover Feast. They do not realize that this will be the last time they share this meal with their Master Teacher…except one, Judas. Jesus “continued to love them right to the end”. He wanted to show them what love is and what love does. Jesus does something that brings surprise and shock followed by awe and humility.
The Master, Whom God has put in charge of everything, gets up from the table, takes off his robe of significance and lays it aside. He puts on the apron of a servant. He kneels before his beloved followers who have been with him for three years and washes their feet! That’s a lot of feet! It’s not about the dirt, it’s about the willingness to serve as a leader. It’s an act of love. Not only did He wash the feet of those who loved him back, he washed the feet of Judas, His betrayer! What kind of love is this? The love of God goes beyond human comprehension, so Jesus shows us love in this incredible act of serving.
Traditionally, this act was usually performed by prepared servants who meet invited guests at the door with a basin of fresh water. Servants then kneel down and wash the dust from the sandaled feet of all who enter as a way to refresh them and get them ready for fellowship over a meal. The roads were dusty and feet were dirty from walking them.
“Master, YOU wash MY feet?” Peter just cannot handle this reverse kingdom thinking. Jesus replies with love for Peter. I’m including you in what I am doing with this act of service. You are part of me. I am part of you.
It’s all about holiness, not hygiene. “…if I, Master and Teacher, wash your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet.” Jesus came to seek and to save the lost…and He did it as a servant to all, giving all He had. Many people talk about servant leadership, Jesus was the epitome of authentic servanthood and the supreme example of how we should live our lives.
“If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it–and live a blessed life.” –Jesus
“I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do.”
I grew up in a church that included washing each other’s feet before observing the Lord’s Supper. The women were in one room and the men in the other so that it was without embarrassment in removing socks, hose and shoes. (We were more modest back in the day!) Later we got smarter and only wore quick release sandals. Still, the act of serving each other by taking the apron and wrapping it around us, kneeling down and soothing the feet of your brother or sister resulted in a blessing. The hug that finished the act with words of tenderness flowed easily. God’s love felt and expressed. This might of been the only time of year that some honored each other with words of affirmation, kindness and encouragement in the faith.
I miss it. In this modern world, many churches do not observe this act of feet washing. “It’s just too weird”, say some. Many leaders are afraid they will scare people off with this act of humble blessing and Jesus’ example of serving. Low attendance to this service has caused many to drop it from the ministry of the church. Mm. I wonder what Jesus thinks?
Then it occurred to me, the intention of the act is to serve. How can we bend down and humbly “wash feet” every day in our lives. Serving is an act. Serving is also an attitude. The attitude precedes the act. Our hearts reflect our behavior. What will we do today to serve? It might be weird, dirty or even disgusting. Ready for it? Are we the prepared servants waiting at the door?
“What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious”
In Jesus Name, Amen
John 13, The Message
Washing His Disciples’ Feet
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.
In Jesus Name, Amen