Personal hygiene is a touchy subject and to have a friend suggest that your feet need washed could well cause a degree of discomfort in your relationship. In old Israel, an offer to wash the feet of travellers was a commonplace act of hospitality. However, your host would normally assign a servant to complete the task; he wouldn’t do it himself, unless of course your host is Jesus, who doesn’t have servants, but who does have friends, and whose actions have far more to do with spiritual welfare than tired feet. So Jesus washes the feet of each disciple, Judas included, in a display of “being there for all of them; ready to serve.” They needed to know that for the days ahead, so he combines the washing of feet with memorable words: “Love one another as I have loved you”.
Love isn’t a feeling – it’s a determination to care as much, if not more so, for the other person’s wellbeing, as you do for yourself. You don’t have to like them. You may not agree with them or approve of their choices. Jesus often didn’t, but he did love them and this practical service was the proof — and a demonstration of what it takes to be a Christ disciple.
Who will you choose to love-the-Jesus-way, today and tomorrow; and how might that play out for them and for you?
Bending down low, Almighty God, you bathe us with kindness, and we are stunned that the King of Glory should show us such generosity. You are the one who enfolds us in your arms and calls us your children – and you have great hopes for us.
In the busyness of this day, may I in turn, bathe the wounds of those who are hurting, and give some of my valuable time to those who truly need it. When I am convinced of my own importance, remind me to measure myself not according to the ways of the world but the Christ of the Kingdom. Amen.
1 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ 7 Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 8 Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ 9 Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ 10 Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.