Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.” When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. (John 13:1-15)
Does it astound you as it does me?
The enormity of the love that Jesus exhibits at his last supper. The enormity of the love that you and I are asked to exhibit in our lives.
Jesus knows that his “hour” has come to depart from this world and return to the Father. He knows that the Father has given all things into his hands, and that he has come from God and is going to God Knowing all this, he chooses to demonstrate his love for his disciples in a dramatic way by taking the role of a slave and washing their feet.
That’s astonishing. But even more astounding is the fact that he does so knowing full well that they will all fail him miserably in his hour of greatest need. He insists on washing the feet of Peter, knowing full well that Peter will deny him to save his own skin. What is more, Jesus stoops to wash the feet of Judas, knowing full well that Judas has already conspired to betray him to those seeking his life.
Most people will admit to feeling their love waver when they are hurt or bitterly disappointed by one who loves them. But not Jesus.
Jesus’ example suggests that loving as he has loved means taking the role of a servant, caring for the needs of others without expecting anything in return. His example suggests that it is to do this not only for those who treat us well, but even for those who disappoint and hurt and betray us. Can Jesus really expect us to do this, to love and serve even those who fail us or stab us in the back? Are we not allowed even a few exceptions to the love commandment?
Not really. The example of foot washing is a call to do what is needed, not merely expected, a call to translate love into service that might even catch someone off guard. We are called to love even when hurt, to forgive, to get up and move forward, to move on and to never stop loving because his love strengthen us.
Of course, we always fall short of God’s perfect love, but that cannot be an excuse to nurse grudges and wallow in unloving behavior. As we are washed by Jesus in God’s deep and generous love, our hearts are stretched to love more completely, fully, unwaveringly.
It’s all made possible because of the one who loves us fully and completely, the one who loves us to the end, even to the cross and grave and back.
His love has the power to set us free to love and serve others with Christ-like compassion, humility and forgiveness.
Now, that’s enormous.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, your love conquers all and never fails. Help me to love others freely, with heart-felt compassion, kindness and goodness. Where there is injury, may I sow peace rather than strife.”
Jesus did not say that only those with pretty feet can walk with him. He called all his followers to walk courageously as his messengers of love to those who are unloved, to announce God’s peace in the midst of conflict, to bring the good news that God’s reign breaks forth. It breaks forth wherever we wash feet, wherever we are known as disciples by our love for one another. “Do this!” How will we, the servants of the Servant, answer his command?