We are now in Holy Week and the last week of Lent. Instead of following each corresponding day with the events in the Bible, we will be focusing on the last 24 hours before Jesus’s death. So we are reading a passage that happened on Thursday.
During supper, Jesus pours water into a basin, and starts going around the disciples washing their feet one by one. Peter, the outspoken disciple, expresses how wrong it feels. He says he will never let Jesus wash his feet. But Jesus says if he doesn’t wash Peter’s feet, he has nothing to do with him. Then, to be fully be connected with his teacher, Peter asks Jesus to wash his whole body. Jesus says Peter is already clean, and just needs his feet washed. After doing this, Jesus tells the disciples that they must wash each other’s feet.
At the end, Jesus shares a new command. It is to love one another. But wait a minute. That sounds exactly like the old one. We all know the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our hearts and the second is love your neighbor as yourself. How is this any different? Jesus’s following sentence makes all the difference. After saying “Love one another,” Jesus says “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus showed his love first. We are showered with his love, and now we can love one another.
Jesus washing the disciple’s feet shows them how to love. Jesus is a person who kneels down in front of this loved ones and washes their disgusting feet. If you remember in the beginning Judas the betrayer is also among the rest of the disciples, and Jesus washes his feet, too. Jesus’s love shows through his service, and it breaks down pride and dignity.
It is a great story, but I think you get a better sense of the meaning when you personally experience getting your feet washed by someone. Last Sunday, we had the teachers wash the children’s feet, and then vice versa. The event was met with a lot of resistance. All the children were yelling, “I don’t want to get my feet washed!” “I’m not touching someone’s feet!” “Ewww!” Even for the teachers, they had to mentally prepare themselves for showing their own feet. Feet are not our best feature. It is stinky, dirty, chapped and scarred. It is awkward and embarrassing. Sometimes it is easy to wash other people’s feet rather than getting our own feet washed by someone else. However to truly love, we must wash and be washed. And if that is difficult, we must go to Jesus first to be washed fully by him.
Jesus is now right before the cross to do the ultimate act of washing. He will bare all of our ugly, stinky, embarrassing sins and wash it away. He washes through the ultimate act of service which is dying for the unlovable.