"We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." (1 John 4:16)
In the land of Israel back in the day that Jesus, our Lord, and Savior, was concluding his public ministry and preparing Himself and His disciples for His passion, foot washing was the custom of the day. The servants of the home would wash the dirt from the feet of the quest as they arrived. It was the evening of the Lord’s Supper and as Jesus and His disciples went to the place of the meal there arose a dispute in the band, as we read in the Gospel of Luke. "And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest." (Luke 22:24)
I can imagine that James and John, perhaps following their mother’s lead, were stating that it would be they who would sit at the right and left of the King’s throne. "Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left." (Matthew 20:20-21) I can hear Peter, the bold and brash one, say wait a minute, I should be on the right side. Peter and John were always in competition. The others along with them stating their achievements as well that they were no less than the three. Though they had been told on many occasions of the events about to take place their concern was evolved and motivated by their own self-ambitions. Their hearts were not right for the task that was directly ahead of them.
Jesus in His forbearance would not entertain the argument or involve Himself in the vocal jousting between their inflated egos. Neither did He rebuke them but calmly led them on to the Upper Room where they would share the sacraments of the Last Supper. Much was on His mind and His Spirit was probably heavy for the events of the morrow were unbearable to contemplate. Now the ones that He had invested three years into their training were out of sync with the reality of the moments just before them. This was the last evening that Jesus would be able to teach the Divine truths needed for the evangelistic work ahead of them after He had returned to the Father. The hearts of the disciples of Jesus had to be brought back into the center focus for their Kingdom business was at hand. Jesus’ hour was upon them. "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded." (John 13:3-5)
I have been to an old fashioned foot washing. It is, to say the least, an experience that lives long in the memory, perhaps forevermore. It is an act of love wrapped in humility towards one another. How else could love be wrapped but in humility? We read in 1 Corinthians 13 that love does not brag, love is not boastful and it is not arrogant, love is acted in humility. I wonder the scene of the disciples as they sat there quietly while the Lord, whom they knew to be the Son of God, washed their feet. They how just moments before were contending for their position in the Kingdom were having their feet washed by the King, by God Himself. Peter, who often engaged his mouth before his mind told the Lord He would never wash his feet. Jesus rebuked Peter with these words, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." This is a truth that all must come to accept that if we are not washed by the King of kings we will never be in His Kingdom. This was the purpose that Jesus clothed Himself in the earthly tent of a man and lived amongst us. This would be the purpose of the next day’s events that He would shed His blood and die that His own might live.
If we are not washed in the blood of Jesus, then we will never set foot in the Heavenly House of God. The only way one may enter into the gate of heaven is if they are righteous. The only way a man can be righteous is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. To receive His righteousness we must be washed in His atoning blood and forgiven of our sins. There is no other way, if Jesus does not wash our feet then we will have no part with Him. "And nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Revelation 21:27)
On that last evening in the Upper Room with His disciples together, Jesus in an act of agape love wrapped in His humility prepared the way for His own that they may be the Children of God. That they could be the charter members of His Church. That they could receive the power of the Holy Spirit to empower them to accomplish the mission that lay before the Church of Jesus Christ. That Jesus through them could care for His own. Thus fulfilling the commission of the Church. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
It was the following morning that God’s faithful Foot Soldier carried out the greatest gift given to man. It was carried out in the unconditional love the Son of God had for the Father in complete submission to His will. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) To the one who accepts this act that Jesus died that they might live and become one of His own bought and purchased by His blood on the tree of Calvary. From that day forward that brother or sister in Christ has the servant of mankind leading, teaching and praying for their forgiveness. Though our repented sins are as far as the east is from the west we still stumble and dirty our feet. But our Lord is faithful and true to wash our feet and make us whole daily.
We are His foot soldiers and we are marching in the battlefield of a world we are no longer a part of. We are of His Kingdom and we carry our crosses of sacrifices for His Kingdom. “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34) We have been given the good news of the Kingdom of God to share with all whom God has prepared their hearts to receive. It is not that we are more worthy than they, it is not that we have something that they can’t have, and it is not something to be bought or sold, for it is the love of God wrapped in our humility. This is the command of our King. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)
As the foot soldiers of the King, our walk of faith enables us to see the eternal purpose that God wishes none to perish, that He loves all mankind, and that He desires all to be in fellowship with Him. This was the mission of His Son that proclaimed from the cross, “It is finished.” "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) This is the measure of God’s Love that He sacrificed His Son for you and me. What could we possibly be called to sacrifice that could measure against that which has been paid for us. His Son, in who we have faith, His Son in who we have assured hope, and in His Son who loved us so much that He died that we might live. "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13) God is love and if we abide in His love His love will abide in us forevermore.
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
The Bridges June 7, 2015