What really happened when Jesus washed his disciples feet.
Do you think Jesus got fed up with his disciples?
I want to talk about a fairly well-known story in the Bible, but one that I have recently come to understand differently. The story can be found towards the end of John's gospel and takes place during the Passover Festival (a Jewish tradition).
The story of Jesus washing his disciples' feet has always been a favorite of mine. I have always read it as a raw rendering of Jesus' heart and humanity wrapped up in one. However, in my recent reading of John 13, I have modified my understanding of Jesus' posture in this story. Before, I read Jesus as a gentle leader, teaching his disciples how to serve and love by taking the position of a servant. While I do believe he is still doing this, I think Jesus is fed up in this scene.
Notice in John 13:4 where it reads: "So he got up from supper, laid aside his outer clothing, took a towel, and tied it around himself." The meal had already begun! Jesus and the disciples had already reclined at the table (the traditional form of eating in this day) and had begun eating. You know they were filthy, too.
Showers were not a daily (even weekly) occasion, and these guys walk everywhere to do everything. Keep in mind that this is also during the Passover Festival, which means Jerusalem's streets were bustling with people and activity. Dust was stirred, animal dung was in abundance, and these guy were huddled in a small room, reclining on the floor, and eating a meal. And it is Jesus who gets up to clean feet (a common custom before eating a meal).
Why does this matter? First, consider where we are in this story. We are entering into the final hour of Jesus' ministry, which means these guys have seen and heard an abundance of Jesus' message of love and service. Despite this, not a single one of them was willing to serve another. Secondly, Jesus is about to take whips and beatings for these guys and not a single one of them was willing to wash his feet! Their Lord!
We can't give them too hard of a time, the likelihood is we would be the same. But, do you see why Jesus might be a little frustrated in this moment? However, despite his possible frustration, Jesus lowers himself to the bottom of the totem pole (a household servant) and washes each of their feet.
Regardless of the fear that was probably tormenting Jesus' heart, he made it known to his disciples that he loved them and lowered himself to their feet to serve them. Jesus has set an example for each of us. If you were to sit down for a meal with Jesus, would you be the first to offer to wash his feet? What other opportunities to serve might you be passing up?
Making Jesus Known in our world means being willing to serve even when everyone else doesn't. Being a disciple of Jesus means learning from his example and seeking opportunities to put it into practice. Sadly, many of us have grown tired or too comfortable on the sidelines. Now is the time to Make Jesus Known by the way we love and serve.