Today’s Scripture Reading: John 13:1-20 (ESV)
…He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not 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, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
The washing of feet was traditionally done during the times of the scripture by servants or those who were of a lower social class as a service to either their masters or for employment. To have one’s Rabbi or teacher wash the feet of their students or followers was a shocking occasion, and it meant the display of love and honour in a most humbling but also scandalous way. In other words, it was a really, really big deal for the disciples to receive this from Jesus. Hence Peter’s statement: “You shall never wash my feet.” It isn’t because Peter was insecure about letting someone wash his feet – it was a feeling of unworthiness to be treated as such by his leader, his dear friend, Jesus.
But Peter, although honoured, did not understand why Jesus washed his feet. He was overwhelmed by the act of blessing Jesus displayed to him and his friends, but the issue was that none of them knew the depth of what that truly meant. We can note this reality about Peter’s shallow perspective on the event in front of him when he asks Jesus to wash his hands and head as well. Peter still did not recognize his brokenness and fixation to religion over the relationship he had with the Son of God. He was excited about receiving the act of ceremonial washing as no more than a religious act of blessing and cleansing. It was still all about him, what he was receiving in that moment, and did not recognize what Jesus was about to do.
Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, even knowing that they would all abandon him. He even washed Judas’ feet even knowing he would directly betray him and hand him over to the Sanhedrin to be beaten and crucified.
When I personally think of what Jesus had done for us, and even knowing we would still sin, I am completely overwhelmed by the extend of his love for us. When we are reminded of this, how does it make you feel? Does the news of what Jesus has already done for you bring you freedom and joy?
We can think of just how much we need Jesus not only today and of the past, but how much we need the Lord even tomorrow. We are powerless to our sin. But it is only in the power of His blood that he washes us clean so that we can join him in eternity.
Are you then merely excited and burdened about the benefits of religion? Or are you humbled and amazed by what Jesus has already done for you on the cross? Jesus desires for you to know the full extent of his love for you as we walk with him daily. He desires to be in relationship with you.
“Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.”
– John 1:16