“It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. “
Jesus knew that His time with the disciples was coming to an end. He had only a few precious hours left with them; one last opportunity to instruct them. So in those final hours, the King of Kings took off His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist, took a basin of water, and began washing the feet of His disciples – a job so degrading that even Jewish slaves were exempt from the task.
Why foot washing? Jesus chose to demonstrated an inner humility because it would be necessary for His disciples to adopt the same inner humility in order to fully carry out the instructions that He was about to leave them with.
I’ve often wondered if the first set of feet Jesus washed belonged to Judas. There are times when I find it hard to wrap my mind around the fact that Jesus washed the very feet of the one whom He knew had already betrayed Him. What must it have felt like to kneel at the feet of His betrayer; to wash the feet of the man who had sold Him for 30 pieces of silver? Yet, with an inner humility, Jesus picked up Judas’ feet and in doing so showed us how to love and serve our enemies.
Maybe Peter’s feet were next. Jesus washed Peter’s feet knowing that Peter, one of His closest friends would betray Him not once, but three times. In fact, all of the disciples would abandon Jesus that very night and He knew it. Yet, with a humble spirit, He knelt down and lovingly washed each of their feet, and demonstrated how to love and forgive those who hurt or offend us.
“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. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
The example, at the core, was this: Jesus did not hold onto the rights and privileges that were His because He was deity. Instead He gave up all that was rightfully His – His position in Heaven, His comforts, His right to be treated with dignity, His right to defend Himself, His life. He humbled Himself in selfless obedience to The Father.
Yes, we are to love and serve one another. Yes, we are to forgive. But in order to do those things after the example of Christ, we must take on the same attitude as He did. It requires an inner transformation of our hearts and minds into the humble likeness of Our Savior.
As we head into Good Friday, carefully consider all that Christ endured, all that He suffered, and all that He gave up for you and me. Sit with your dirty feet at the table in the upper room. Watch the sadness in His eyes as everyone flees the scene in the garden. Listen to the sounds of the scourging in the night hours and the cruel mocking of His captors. Look into His weary eyes as He stumbles under the load of the cross. Hear the ping of the hammer driving the nails into His hands and feet. Watch as the crowd jeers and mocks Him and challenges Him to prove that He is the Son of God. Pay close attention to His anguish as He takes on all our sins and is separated from His Father for the first time in all of eternity.
And when you wake up Easter morning, rejoice in your salvation which was freely given to you all because Jesus humbled Himself in obedience, even to death on the cross. Then follow His example and hear His promise:
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
John 13 and Philippians 2:5-11
In Christ’s love,
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