By Tyson Thorne

September 12, 2019

John 40 Large

There is real evil in this world, scarier than anything from a Hollywood movie. This is not one of those stories. Instead we see one of the greatest acts of goodness and light — of humility — ever performed in world history. Jesus has finished his public ministry and is hours away from his death. How does he spend that time? With those closest to him, surely. Rather than making it all about himself, however, Jesus continues to show his love in a remarkably simple way. By washing the feet of his followers Jesus demonstrates that no task, no matter how unclean, cannot be turned into an act of love.

Chapter 13 transitions to Part Five, The Preparation for the Departure of the Messiah. This section extends to the end of chapter 17 and has five sub-sections. Throughout this section of John's Gospel, Jesus will explain much about the Father. In fact, he will invoke the name "Father" 53 times. The first section, however, is about the love of Jesus and how he shows it to those around him (13.1-30). Our text for today is the first 17 verses. In my opinion, this is one of the most uncomfortable passages of the Bible,

At some point during the Last Supper Jesus reveals his never-ending love for the disciples (verse 1). Jesus knows all that is about to happen. He knows Judas was ready to betray him; he knows Peter will deny him three times before the sun rises again; he knows that, to a man, all the disciples will run and hide rather than stand with their Lord. He knows all this, and yet he continues to teach them and love them all. So he rises from the table, takes off his outer garments (probably now dressed only in his loin cloth), grabs a towel and a basin of water and approaches one of the men. Without saying a word, he washes the man's feet.

Their sandals were likely left near the door. After their travels, their feet were dirty with dust and sweat and whatever else that possibly was lay on the country and city roads. Normally Jews washed their own feet before entering a room or home. They had neglected this duty, and Jesus used the opportunity. While it isn't mentioned in the passage, I imagine Jesus did a perfect job, getting between their toes and assuring that they were "clean" before moving on to the next.

Verse six says, "Then he came to Simon Peter..." If there is one thing we can count on Peter for, it's saying the wrong thing. He doesn't disappoint on this occasion. "Lord," he asks, "are you going to wash my feet?" As plain as his intensions were, Jesus answer's cryptically. "You will never wash my feet!" Peter would not allow the Messiah to stoop so low. It was a nasty job, and Peter couldn't bear it. Jesus tells him, "If I do not wash your feet, you have no part with me." This causes one of those abrupt about-faces that peter is famous for. "Then wash my hands and head to!" Peter, never one to settle for enough, wanted to be a larger part of Jesus and His world than anyone else.

After washing all twenty four feet he dressed again and sat down at the table. "Do you understand what I've done for you?" He asked. I imagine the room fell deathly quiet. If the Lord of the universe can wash 12 pairs of dirty feet, no job is beneath the servant of the Lord. In fact, rather than shunning or avoiding such things the Christ-follower ought to look for a need and fill it. There is a second point though, an unspoken one. There is no foot, or job, so dirty it cannot become pure. We can make sacred even the lowliest of chores when it is performed out of love.

If that doesn't make you at least a little uncomfortable, then you don't get it. Go back and read the passage again. Go ahead, I'll be waiting for you right here.

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