“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, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his 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 everyone was clean”.
Jesus was washing the feet of His disciples on His last evening with them. He was down on the floor ministering to these men who should have been ministering to him. He probably untied their sandals, wiped the dust off each foot, washed them in the bowl of water, and then wiped them with the large towel wrapped around Him. When it was Peter’s turn, Jesus met with vehement protests: “You shall never wash my feet”. “Never” is a long time! Peter, in his humility, was so emphatic about the fact that Jesus should not wash his feet that he denied any future possibility as well. Jesus was their Lord, their teacher and master. In the cultural context of the time, no teacher would have done what Jesus was doing, and washed his disciples’ feet as this was the duty of the lowest of slaves. It would have been unheard of for the lord of the house to minister to his employee or slave, or even his wife or children in such a way, but Jesus broke the boundaries of cultural norm. He went beyond common expectations. He showed them yet again what it means to love.
Peter could not understand why Jesus did what He did. He said “no”, “not my feet”, “never”, but Jesus said to him “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand”, and “unless I wash you, you have no part with Me”. Peter was used to serving Jesus, and he found it difficult to sit back and allow Jesus to serve him. Peter may have been like many of us – good at giving but not comfortable receiving. There are many reasons for this:
1)We may (unconsciously) not feel worthy to receive. 2) There has always been an expectation upon us to do/give, and we have never learnt to receive. 3) We have grown in the mentality of always having to do something to be valued or appreciated. 4) It takes a degree of humility to receive.
Jesus explained to Peter that life in Him was a two way street of giving and receiving, loving and being loved, blessing and being blessing. (Even human relationships cannot grow or endure where one person does all the giving). However, to grow in our walk with God, we have to learn to receive. We could never out-give God. Everything good we have is from Him, and one of those good things is His ministry of cleansing and sanctifying our hearts and lives as we walk with Him. We have to let Jesus wash our feet or we can have “no part” with Him. It is only as we submit to His hand upon us, renovating, rebuilding, reshaping us that we are made daily more like Him, into that new creation made possible because we walk in relationship with Him.
I believe that as we spend time with Jesus daily, feed on the Word, submit to authority, and interact with other believers on a regular basis, we permit Jesus to “wash our feet”, that our walk may be holy and towards Him. Ephesians 5:25-27 read: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”.
When Peter heard what Jesus had to say, he said “Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and head as well”. He loved Jesus, and if Jesus said he had to submit to having his feet washed, then he wanted not just that but the whole deal! However Jesus said “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean, and you are clean.” He says the same to us today. When a person receives Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they experience the forgiveness of all sins, as they are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. It is not necessary for them to repeatedly invite Jesus to come in and be their Savior, because He has already come into their lives and forgiven their sins. They have been born again. However, as we walk this earthly life, we pick up the dust and dirt of the world. In multiple ways, through our words, deeds and thoughts, we may pollute the life which Jesus made clean. As we come before Him daily and permit Him to show us where we need to receive His cleansing water and towel, we are made whole again, and ready to take a step closer to where we want to be in Him.
Friend, Jesus wants to see you continuously renewed and made beautiful for Him because He loves you and has such awesome plans for you! He knew that Judas was going to betray Him later on that night, and that all his friends would desert Him, but He still loved them, and showed them how much. He loves you and me no less. He knows about all the times we have failed Him, and all the times we may let Him down in the future, and He still loves us with a passion. He loved us enough to give His life! He seeks nothing from us other than that we yield to Him, allowing His Word to cleanse us, and His Spirit to shape us into His image, as we allow ourselves to fall in love with Him, and receive His amazing love. May you know the depth and breadth of His love for you, as you yield to His ministrations and say ‘yes’ to all He has for you.
There are a few threads of truth we can take from today’s Scripture:
•You may not be clear about what God is doing in your life right now but you will understand later. It is all taking shape and you will see the beautiful picture it will be.
•Living in Jesus means learning to receive – every blessing, now and in the future, is from Him.
•Be like Jesus – go beyond the norm. Be the best that you can be. Do the best that you can do. Let no tradition or expectation restrict the awesome blessing you can be in the life of another.
•Submit your heart to the daily maintenance of God – be cleansed in the water of the Word and in the blood of the Lamb.
Finally, some of us may have said a ‘never’ to Jesus about something in our lives. It could be something like “I will never forgive them”, “I will never believe him/her again”, “I will never be healed,” or “I can never be happy/consoled again.” It may be that you have said “I will never try again”, or “I will not trust anyone ever again”. Whatever the “never” vow you have made to yourself, Jesus would have you lay that down in His bowl of water today. It is standing between you and Him and hindering the wonderful blessing He wants to pour into your life. Being a part of Him means letting that old vow go, and allowing Jesus to help you to forgive, believe, to trust, and be joyful again. There is so much of love and blessing He wants to pour into your life, if you will open your heart and receive!
May this Word be blessed into your spirit, and may you know all the release and cleansing power that Jesus wants to bring to you, as you submit to His Spirit and place your feet in the water!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 11 April 2011
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