|Clean Soles. Clean Souls.
We stand clean, we walk clean, and we are blessed when we wash the feet of others.
Some of the heroes in our world, like athletes, people admire because of their talented strength while others, like soldiers or firefighters, people admire for their willing sacrifice. In the John 13 account of Jesus washing his disciples' feet we see Peter struggle with the intersection of the two. How does he trust and follow a Savior who is both mighty Lord and suffering Servant?
In the first century it was a friendly courtesy to provide a servant to wash the feet of those who would visit your home. Here in the private room Jesus had arranged for a meal with his disciples, there was no servant. So the disciples entered and then gathered at the table but no one volunteered to wash feet. Then the servant showed himself. The mighty Lord Jesus, the powerful Son of God, washed their feet. None of them argued or interfered. Yet they all wondered if it should be this way. Somebody should do something.
Jesus "came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?'" Peter could see Matthew or Andrew or any of the others washing his feet. But not Jesus.
To paraphrase Jesus' reply: "It's okay, Peter. I know what I'm doing. Yes, I am the Lord of all, and I'll always be the Lord of all, but now is the time for me to be the Servant of all to suffer and die for sins." It's Jesus' willing choice. Nobody is forcing him to the cross. He chooses the cross. He chooses the feet. He chooses you. He knows what he's doing.
"'No,' said Peter, "'You shall never wash my feet.'" Paraphrase: "Jesus, you should be busy battling the devil and the Romans at that, crushing my enemies, defeating all those evildoers out there and setting up your throne forever! You're so above washing feet, especially my feet. Jesus, you and I are both better than that."
Better than what, my friend? Can you be willing to find yourself, with me, in Peter's objection? Who has not been served because I'm too good for them? Who has not been loved because I'm too busy for them? What has not been done because I'm too important? How often have I missed following Jesus because I don't find him on my path of greatness as he walks his path of humility and misses me, because I lifted my chin so high that I couldn't find him while he was humbly washing feet?
"Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'" Jesus isn't concerned about Peter's feet any more, and doesn't mention them in his response. He is concerned about Peter as a person, as a soul, as a sinner in need of saving. And Jesus makes Peter's having a part with him - being connected to Jesus as his Savior - not depend on anything Peter does but on something Jesus does. "Unless I wash you."
The distance that Jesus stoops from his eternal, glorious throne in heaven to the sandy floor and sweaty feet of a room filled with his own fickle followers is so extreme, so loving to the end, that it makes room to save us, and now leaves room to compel us.
"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master … now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." If any of his disciples think they are too great to stoop down for menial tasks in serving others, they can only do so by thinking of themselves as greater than Jesus. Jesus has washed our feet, that part of us most dirtied by the sinful world, and so he purifies our entire being. Today, with our feet still on this earth, we stand clean, we walk clean, and we are blessed when we wash the feet of others that they, too, might see the humiliation of Jesus and be clean.
PRAYER: Jesus, Savior, wash away all that I've done wrong today. Make me ever more like you, good and gentle, kind and true. Amen.
A M essage of E xtraordinary M ercy and O pportunity from
Grace Lutheran Chruch