WEEK FOUR, DAY ONE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK FOUR THEME: SERVING
DAY ONE THEME: GETTING DIRTY
SCRIPTURE: JOHN 13:1-17 (CEB)
“Before the Festival of Passover, Jesus knew that his time had come to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them fully. Jesus and his disciples were sharing the evening meal. The devil had already provoked Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, to betray Jesus.
Jesus knew the Father had given everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen tower, he tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but you will understand later.’ ‘No!’ Peter said. ‘You will never wash my feet!’ Jesus replied, ‘Unless I wash you, you won’t have a place with me.’ Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, not only my feet but also my hands and my head!’
Jesus responded, ‘Those who have bathed need only to have their feet washed, because they are completely clean. You disciples are clean, but not every one of you.’ He knew who would betray him. That’s why he said, ‘Not every one of your is clean.’ After he washed the disciples’ feet, he put on his robes and returned to his place at the table.
He said to them, ‘Do you know what I’ve done for you?’ You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you speak correctly, because I am. If I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you too must wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example: just as I have done, you also must do. I assure you, servants aren’t greater than their master, nor are those who are sent greater than the one who sent them. Since you know these things, you will be happy if you do them.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: Sometimes things happen to us, and really don’t get the significance of the event until later on and it amplifies the experience into something powerful and even explosive!!!
Jesus knows what the disciples don’t, this is their last meal together. They have shown up for “just another gathering” – one of many in the past and surely of many more to come as far as they are concerned. But Jesus is very aware of all the events that lie ahead, from betrayal to crucifixion and finally resurrection. He knows he is returning to where the Father is – his original place. But this last gathering has him reflective and full of love for those who have so willingly followed him these several years…. “he loved them fully”. Can’t you feel his heart in this moment!
I think in that moment he was conflicted between his human and divine self. His humanity didn’t want to leave his friends even to go to his place of divinity with his Father. In his perplexity he begins his road to the cross and resurrection by becoming a complete servant and washing the feet of the disciples. In their dusty climate, their feet would never be clean, even after a bath, their next steps would have them dusty once again. This complete cleansing of his disciples illustrates his great love for the them and blesses them for all of time. They will never forget this act of compassions and love.
It is so out of character for any teacher much less, Lord, to take on the role of a servant that Peter can’t take it and refuses such action. He will not allow Jesus to wash his feet – he is accustomed to taking care of Jesus and doesn’t know how to handle such a role reversal. I can just see the eyes of Jesus melting Peter’s heart and stubborness as he looks into Peter’s eyes proclaiming, “Unless I wash you, you won’t have a place with me.” Peter couldn’t handle that – his loyalty is absolute – he must submit to this kindness that Jesus is offering.
Thinking about the days ahead after Jesus has ascended into Heaven, how often must Peter have reflected on this experience. Jesus was basically anointing Peter for the ministry ahead – leading the Church! Once filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter would have amazing confidence and conviction to move on in ministry… I bet he remembered this anointing of Jesus – Jesus washing his feet – preparing him for the steps he would be taking toward birthing the church – becoming ever more into his anointed role, ‘The Rock’.
Sometimes we just want to be the servant – maybe it is just easier to serve than to lead. But, in this act of love – this time of footwashing – this time of ’til we meet again’, Jesus is loving his disciples and thanking them for all the service they will be doing in the future and thanking them for their love and devotion in their time physically together – remembering all the things they have encountered and done – excited for what all is still to come.
Eleven of the twelve are ever loyal and devoted to Jesus. But Jesus is keenly aware of the actions of Judas to betray him into the hands of the authorities. Indifferent to this knowledge, Jesus also washed the feet of Judas. Jesus works this way, he loves and anoints both ‘the Rock’ and ‘the Traitor’!
God’s love knows no boundaries. God’s love is beyond conditions and circumstances. Jesus reserves all judgment for the Father and eternity. He loves unconditionally and without reserve or degree. Jesus set the example for us to do likewise. Who should we withhold love from – who is undeserving because of any reason – where does such authority come from. If our Lord and example, Jesus Christ would wash the feet of his betrayer alongside all his missionaries without reserve – how can we choose to do differently?
Jesus is clear,…“servants aren’t greater than their master, nor are those who are sent greater than the one who sent them.” God bless us as we move forward in ministry as a servant trusting God to handle all judgments. Help us to be vessels of love!
LET IT BE SO!