What must Jesus have been feeling? He knew what was coming. It wasn’t going to be pretty, but it was going to be the most beautiful thing he could ever do for those he loved. For us. The time was drawing near. Jesus was human, so he had to be fearful. You know that sick feeling you get when you dread something–that’s what I imagine Jesus was feeling that night. Yet, his love for his friends was stronger.
Jesus’ relationship was secure. God was his Father and he would soon be returning to him. There was no doubt about that. Knowing this truth must have also led to complete and total freedom! Jesus knew who had his back. But he would be leaving his friends behind. Imagine you knew you were going to die, what would you want to tell your friends? Jesus had another lesson left to teach.
Dinner was over. Jesus prepared himself to wash the disciples feet. We are going to witness love in action. Jesus loved his disciples to the end. In their culture, washing of guests’ feet was a customary gesture of hospitality and friendship. However, the host would never do the action himself; that was the work of servants. Can you imagine the Son of God washing your feet?
Take a moment to just close your eyes and picture this moment preserved in time. Would you have been like Peter? Would you have been wondering if Jesus had lost his mind? Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” What did he mean? Like our reading yesterday with Mary’s act of anointing with perfume, the significance would be later revealed.
What it says to me is that Jesus was modeling for us how to serve with humility and love. He wanted us to know we could share in this act, or any act of service. When done with love, it would be more powerful, more God-honoring. If Peter wanted to refuse that love, how could he truly be with Jesus. Other translations would say “you can never share with me.” Jesus new he was soon to depart, and he wanted his followers to carry on and be his hands and feet.
If we think of dirty feet as our hearts filled with sin, it is obvious we all need cleansing. Only Jesus can wash us clean. Jesus loved them all, even the one who would betray. We, too, need to share in that and not only love those who have it all together, but the unlovely, the sick, the wounded, the broken. They need a Savior as much as we do. We are all in need of cleansing and hope.
Jesus simply wants us to love one another. He’s said it before. Here we see him acting it out. It’s a simple commandment and yet we break it time and again. When we judge others. When we turn the other way when situations get messy. When we are too busy with our own lives to care about our neighbors. Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”
How are you at loving others? Is it a surface love or is it a love full of compassion like Jesus loved?
Let’s pray. Lord, you have given us a simple job to do and yet it can be so hard. Help me be more loving. May I see others as you see them. Humble my heart so I can lead with authentic love and compassion. Hasten the day that we can be moving about the world freely again. Set my heart on fire to be your witness of love in this world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.