Often, I think I jump to what I need to do rather than just chew on what He’s done. I rush to practical application, brushing past the wonder of incarnation. Ready to imitate, before I take time to meditate. Such is the case as I read the opening verses of John 13 this morning.
I imagine that a hush must have fell over the room as Jesus got up from supper, took off His outer garment, and took up the towel. That all eyes must have been fixed on the Master as, without a word, He filled the basin with water, and started washing the disciples feet. And that, while Simon may have been the only one to articulate the question, they were all thinking, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”
What they didn’t know at the time is what John, through the Holy Spirit, reveals to those would later read his account of that final meal. That Jesus determined to serve His disciples in such a lowly manner “knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God” (13:3). At the moment Jesus was fully aware of His deity, His authority, and His destiny. If ever there was a time to stand before them as Lord, and command them as Master, this was the time. But first He would kneel at their feet and serve them because He had purposed to love them to the end.
. . . when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
(John 13:1 ESV)
That’s what Jesus does. He loves His own to the end. He is with them, as they run the race, until they cross the finish line. Draws alongside during the battle, until victory is finally won. Having started a good work in His own, He is committed to seeing it through until the day He comes again to gather His own to Himself. And if along the way, it means washing their feet (and it does), He does that too.
Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered Him, If I do not wash you, you have no share with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean . . ”
(John 13:8-10 ESV)
Jesus told Peter the washing was necessary. That getting dirt on his feet was inevitable. That if Peter were going to continue to abide with Jesus, it would be necessary to pull out the towel, from time to time. Not that Peter would need to again be fully bathed, but would continually need to ministered to through the basin. Jesus being prepared to continually wipe off the feet of those He already declared completely clean.
Made clean, completely clean, through His finished work on the cross. The shed blood of Christ removing the stain of sin and transgression forever. But the water of the Word needing to be applied often to deal with the defiling effect of the ways of this world and the weakness of the flesh. Jesus willing, again and again, to take up the towel and basin and wash away our failure that we might continue in fellowship with Him. Determined to love us, and love us to the end.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1John 1:8-9 ESV)
I know I need to follow the Master’s example. That just as He humbles Himself to wash my feet, I need to humbly draw alongside and serve others. That a servant is not great than his master. And that there is a blessing in knowing these things and doing these things (13:16-17).
But before I go there, I need to sit here and humbly confess, “Lord Jesus, wash my feet.”
Before I go and do, there is merit in remembering what He has already done and is continually doing.
Before I act, maybe it’s best to be still and simply adore. To reflect on the love of God as manifest in the Son who through Spirit has determined to love me to the end.
O’, the wonder of grace. To Him be all the glory.