The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
- John 13:2-11
“While Jesus had a more than ordinary consciousness of his own dignified nature and position, he condescended to wash his disciples feet! And though many years elapsed between the event and the time John recorded it, all the details were pressed in his memory so that he distinctly mentions each separate act – Jesus ‘got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself.’” …
“We have often noticed Peter’s fault. Let us notice Peter’s excellence. I admire his humility in thinking it too inferior an office for Christ to wash his feet. It is a most proper feeling. It seemed an overwhelming condescension of love that he could scarcely permit. Although he spoke rashly when he said, ‘You will never wash my feet,’ his motive was a good one. It was because he could not allow his Lord to stoop so low – to wash the feet of such a poor fisherman.”
- Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes
I don’t think that I have ever heard a sermon on the washing of feet where the pastor said, “If you think washing feet is service to those I love, you ain’t seen nothing yet!” About 24 hours later, Jesus would be placed in a tomb, having died so that not only His disciples could live, but all who believe. Jesus is preaching a marvelous sermon without words by showing His disciples that He is on earth to serve His chosen people, that we might have life, and life abundantly.
I have only taken part in one foot ‘washing’ ceremony. We were at a church retreat and the two pastors brought out essential oils and anointed everyone’s feet. When they were talking about ‘washing’ feet, my wife suggested that I sneak out the back door. I have something wrong in my make-up that sends heat to the extremities. Thus, I usually have sweaty palms and stinky feet. The pastors were prepared. They had everyone take their socks off and put their shoes back on. They then anointed each person’s ankle. Less problems with stinky feet.
Thinking of stinky feet, Spurgeon’s sermon point on the excellence of Peter’s motive could be dashed upon the rocks if Peter just had stinky feet. “No, Lord, don’t go there. You might pass out.” It provides a totally different meaning to the conversation.
But all joking aside, the disciples had walked the streets of Jerusalem that day. These are the same streets where ox carts carry goods, and unlike the quaint historic towns of the Southern coastal USA that I have visited where most cities have a horse-diaper law, the oxen did not wear diapers. Jesus was stooping much lower than you or I might stoop in doing the same thing today.
But as I said earlier, they had not seen anything in comparison to laying down one’s life for those He loves, and in the way He did.
The old children’s song, Jesus Loves Us, falls a bit short, even with the last verse, when considering the suffering Jesus withstood to show that love, doing what His Father in Heaven sent Him to earth to do. But the Joey+Rory recording is moving, knowing it would be on her last CD.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.