“(Jesus) got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet…” (John 13:4-5)
Yesterday we talked about this final life-lesson that Jesus desired to give to His disciples – just before He would go through the ordeal of the cross. The point was driven home with stark clarity. “The greatest among you will be your servant.” (Mt. 23:11) To be as Jesus is, we must do as Jesus does – and Jesus came not to be served but to serve (Mt. 20:28). His life was a life of service to others – even in the times when the power of God was emanating from Him… changing someone’s life.
Think about it: God came to live among us and He did not seek to be honored as God! Instead, He sought to honor others, by giving of Himself to meet the needs of those in His path. Jesus should have been the One served. But His only goal was to give His life in service to others. His final life-lesson was taught with a basin and a towel… and feet. I doubt the disciples ever forgot it…
I realized something as I was thinking about that night – something that further emphasizes the Heart of God towards us.
Jesus washed ALL the disciples’ feet.
He washed the feet of Thomas. We know Thomas by the title that precedes his name whenever we think about him. “Doubting” Thomas. I’m sure it was a characteristic that was buried deep within his makeup. Thomas was the skeptic of the bunch. He was always wanting the hard facts – and would not believe without them. Deep down, he always wanted to believe… but constantly battled with his own uncertainties. And questions. And trepidations.
Imagine how Jesus must have felt, knowing exactly who Thomas was, yet eagerly including him in the night’s festivities. Jesus does not reject doubters – He welcomes them, He includes them, He washes their feet, He loves them.
Jesus also washed the feet of Peter. We already have some of the interaction between Jesus and Peter over this whole issue of washing his feet (13:6-10). Peter was adamantly opposed. Such a thing was “beneath” the Master. Or maybe… Peter’s pride wouldn’t allow him to humble himself to the Master’s servanthood.
But here is Jesus… washing Peter’s feet. In spite of all his protests… and in full knowledge that in only a few hours Peter would forcefully deny ever having known the Master. For all his brash behavior… deep down, Peter was a bundle of insecurity and anxiety. But Jesus knew this… and included him just the same. Jesus is not ashamed of those whose anxious moments get the best of them – or who do foolish things (often!). He welcomes them. He tenderly seeks the best in them. He loves them.
Most striking of all… Jesus washed the feet of Judas.
Jesus knew Judas. He knew that he was a thief (skimming funds from the money bag! [see Jn. 12:6]) He knew that He was a hothead (with personal leanings towards the zealots of his day who wanted to overthrow Rome). Most of all, He knew that Judas was the one who would betray Him – and be the catalyst for His suffering.
Yet, here was Jesus… washing the feet of the man who would betray Him with a friend’s kiss. Can you imagine the moment when their eyes met – and Judas knew the Master could see right through him? How his heart must have sunk.
And how Jesus’ eyes were filled with nothing but love… even in the unbearable sadness. Tenderly, Jesus washed His betrayer’s feet. Gently, He dried them. He even included him!
Jesus, knowing what this man was about to do… looked beyond the things he was, and saw him with the Heart of the God – Who knows all our flaws, and fears, and failures, and weaknesses, and betrayals… and loves us all the same.
It is that kind of love that drove the Master to give His life as a ransom for many.
It is that kind of love that gives hope to us all!