Scripture Reading: John 13:1-17
Having dinner with friends has been a time-tested tradition that has brought people together for thousands of years. While social interaction in general is great, there’s something about being able socialize and eat at the same time that is so appealing. In keeping with the tradition of the Passover celebration, Jesus and his disciples gathered to break bread and recount of God’s deliverance of the Jewish people thousands of years earlier.
There is so much that takes place during the Passover feast. In fact, all four Gospels cover different aspects of what took place during this meal. From some of the most significant and powerful teaching that the world has ever known, to the first communion, and to the outing of Judas as the betrayer, this evening consisted of so much more than just eating food. One thing in particular comes from John’s Gospel. John’s Gospel is unique in that he wrote it many years after Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their accounts with the intent to cover what they didn’t. In John 13, we see Jesus do something completely unexpected and unusual for someone of his stature. He removed his outer garments, tied a towel around his waist, and began to wash the feet of his friends.
Keep in mind that the feet being washed were not carefully pampered and manicured or were protected by a nice pair of comfortable shoes. These were feet that travelled long distances in exposed sandals and were likely caked in dirt, dust, and animal feces. The job of foot washer was typically a job reserved for the lowest of slaves and it was unlikely that even Jesus’ disciples would have been expected to wash his feet. However, on his own volition, he does the task nobody wants. This is to teach us two things. First, Jesus demonstrated what a true servant’s heart looks like. No task was too great, too disgusting, or too beneath him when it came to serving his friends. He showed that a true leader serves because he loves those he leads. A true leader does not dominate but looks out for the greater good of those under him or her. Second, Jesus foreshadowed what He was going to do. He showed the reason he came and that was to make people clean. No matter how dirty, disgusting, or hopeless they may seem, he came to wash and restore through his Holy Spirit.
The importance of this story is not just found in this incredible example of humility but in what it represents. No matter how dirty or disgusting you may think you are and no matter how hopeless you may see yourself, Jesus came to make you clean and make you whole. There is no manner of filth too bad that Jesus won’t humble himself to make clean. While you prepare for what’s to come for the upcoming events that follow this story, remember that it was all for you and what was about to transpire was for the purpose of the Son of God to make you clean.
- How would you react if you were in the same position of the disciples? How do you think you would feel about Jesus washing your feet?
- What are some ways that you can better serve others? How does the story of Jesus washing feet inspire you?
- Have you ever struggled with coming to Jesus with your dirt? What does this story tell you about that?