The memorable and heartbreaking scene forever etched in our minds by the ominous depiction as the “Last Supper” is one of the most familiar, being depicted in works of art and in motion pictures by actor/director Mel Gibson. The New Testament Gospels portray an emotionally-tinged narrative that is compelling as well as revealing in the various nuances and shades of meaning behind what each writer presented and what was intentionally omitted. The scene is set in the following:
Matthew 26: 17, 19
Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.
When evening had come, He sat down with the “Twelve.” Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them [including Judas Iscariot] began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”
26-29 “The LORD’S Supper”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olivet. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane.
Mark 14: 1, 3-6, 10-11
After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery (deception) and put Him to death. And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper [NOT!!- Aramaic. “Simon the Jar maker or Potter”], as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly perfume of nard and spikenard. Then she broke [Aramaic. “opened”] the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? “For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.” Then Judas Iscariot, one of the “Twelve,” went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. So he sought how he might conveniently betray Him.
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed (sacrificed) the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go prepare, that You may eat the Passover?” So His disciples went out, and came to the city, and found it just as He had said to them: and they prepared the Passover. In the evening He came with the Twelve. Now as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you who eats with Me will betray Me.” And they began to be sorrowful, and to say to Him one by one [including Judas Iscariot], “Is it I?” He answered and said to them, “It is one of the “Twelve,” who dips with Me in the dish.
22-25 “The LORD’S Supper”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olivet. Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane.
Luke 22: 1-6
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the “Twelve.” So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.
Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover [lamb] must be killed (sacrificed). And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?” So they went out and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.
“The LORD’S Supper”
[Jesus said], “But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table.” “Then they began questioning among themselves [Judas Iscariot included], which one of them it was who would do such a thing.
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I AM among you as the One who serves.”
NOTE: This is undoubtedly the backdrop for the “Foot washing” example found in John 13: 3-10.
Luke 22: 39-40a
Coming out [of Bethany??], He went to the Mount of Olivet, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place [Gethsemane], He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation (Cp. 22: 46b).”
John 13: 1-2, 4-8
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come and that He should depart from this world to the father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ [including Judas Iscariot who was to betray Him] feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I AM doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? “You call Me Teacher and LORD, and you say well, 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 should do as I have done to you. “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” The disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom he spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “LORD, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. For some thought, Judas had the money box that Jesus had said to him, “Buy those things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.
When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook of Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered.
It can be seen that all of the Gospel narratives identify Judas Iscariot as Jesus’ betrayer but only John’s version introduces “Foot-washing” while at the same time leaves out one of the centerpieces in the faith practices of Christendom, namely, the “LORD’S Supper” or ‘Eucharist.’ There are of course a few denominations who practice this rite, such as Seventh-Day Adventists and Church of God in Christ, among doubtless a few others, too. The majority of believers will deem that this practice was only for the benefit of Jesus’ disciples or the “Twelve” at that time to teach them a lesson because of their pettiness, competitiveness, lack of spiritual discernment and maturity; let alone the fact that there were probably some Alpha males in the group, or at least one, in the person of Simon Peter.
While this point is valid but what the LORD Jesus [Yeshua] set forth as an example is much bigger than just those twelve or more of His earliest followers because it has implications down to modern times of today and there could be a wonderful blessing in store for those who really discern the wealth of spiritual power in this sincere, heartfelt and unconditional surrender of ‘self’ and the ‘ego.’ Remember that Jesus told Peter that if He didn’t wash him that he didn’t have any part with Him, but why did He say that over a matter which would appear on the surface to be a gracious and magnanimous display of humility?
The LORD told Peter that he didn’t understand this act then but he would later; especially when Jesus went into more detail. This was more than simple humility but a deep and enriching spiritual awakening for the disciples which led to Jesus giving the “New Commandment” to ‘Love one another’ (Cp. John 13: 35; 15: 12). Perhaps the issue of this practice requires a second look because Jesus says to His disciples in Matthew 16: 24: “If anyone desires to come after Me,(1) let him deny himself, (2) take up his cross, and (3) follow Me.
Somebody might say, “I don’t think it takes all of that just to be a Christian, or to prove that I love God,” and while one could understandably justify within themselves such a point-of-view, consider this again and to reiterate; Jesus said, “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 should do as I have done to you. “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (Cp. John 13: 12-16)
John 15: 9-10, 13-14
“As the Father loved Me, I also loved you; abide in My love. “If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments (Cp. Mark 10: 45; I Timothy 2: 6; Hebrews 10: 5-10) and abide in His love. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”
When Simon the sorcerer thought that he could buy the gift of the Holy Spirit [Ruach ha Kodesh], Peter told Him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased wit money! “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.” (Cp. Acts 8: 20-21)
Is it possible that those who resist such a practice do not have their heart right before God and are like those whom Stephen addressed in Acts 7: 51: “You stiff-necked (stubborn) and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” Jesus said in John 13: 10b, 11b: “Not all of you are clean,” but He also said, “You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you (Cp. John 15: 2).”
In Acts 5: 32 it reads: “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” It is not to be a demagogue and attempt to coerce or put a guilt trip upon someone if they do not participate in ‘Foot-washing’ because that alone won’t gain the favor of God; no matter how many people you wash their feet or any other fruit-bearing activities because without “Love” whatever you do won’t profit you a thing (Cp. I Corinthians 13: 3). Lastly, Luke 17: 10 says: “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”
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