John 13:1-20 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”
The 2nd Greatest Example of Humble Service
Several years ago, we launched a mission team who were going to be serving homeless folks who were living in various stages on the streets. Some of these folks were living in abandoned buildings, while some were living in cars or wherever they could find temporary shelter. All of these folks had one thing in common, they did not have access to personal grooming supplies and clean garments. There were many different aspects to the service, but the main focus was on treating these people who were homeless to some personal grooming including, washing and massaging hands, shampooing and treating hair, trimming beards, washing feet, and providing clean socks. After the service, we began to hear the same story emerging from the group. Out of all the services provided there was something different about washing feet. Before the event, when folks were told they would be washing a stranger’s feet, they were skittish to say the least, but they obediently, if not reluctantly, did it. The people who were about to get their feet washed felt the same, if not more uncomfortable.
However, afterwards, each of these people reported the same thing, that there was a bond that developed from the foot washing. They reported that the demeanor of the people getting their feet washed changed dramatically. They told us that when the people sat down, they felt unworthy and ashamed of their feet, and some simply got up and walked away. However, after the washing, the person served had a different light in their eye. Their heads raised and they smiled. The person doing the washing also had changed, as they realized that their humble service was returning God promised life and respect to a person who had allowed those promises to slip away. The humility of washing someone’s feet returned to them a portion of the image of God they were created with and closed the gap between hopelessly lost and the source of all hope, Jesus.
There are many pictures found in this Scripture and much theology that we could talk about, but I hope we can see one fundamental truth. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. We have wandered down a long road, bent away from God, every step extracting the joy that God created us for in a relationship with him. Every step we take cakes our feet with shame and guilt, and often when we see a chance to find the path back to God, we resist, because our feet are so filthy. Among all the beautiful pictures here, Jesus, in his excruciating, humiliating, march toward the cross, takes a moment to wash the guilt and shame from our feet and beckons us to join him on the road to hope. Jesus simply says to each of us, “Don’t look down at your feet, look into my eyes and see the future, a joyous reunion with our loving Father.”
On Today’s Road: I remember thinking that as gracious and loving as Jesus may be, I would never allow him to see my feet because they were caked in sin and disgrace. But Jesus persisted. He constantly called me to sit down and let him cleanse me. What about you? Do you feel unworthy? Well the truth is, we are all equally unworthy, but Jesus sits us down anyway, and removes a lifetime of guilt and shame. Even if you are on the road, stop here and take a seat. It's worth every moment spent with the Lord.