Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 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.John 13:1-4 (NASB)
John chapter 13 – 17 provide the best details of the most intimate time Jesus would spend with His disciples before His death. In the upper room where the disciples have prepared the Passover Feast to be shared together, Jesus shows the extent of His love for His disciples, and by extension, the entire world. We must remember that at His first coming, Jesus was sent to save the world, not judge the world (john 3:17). Judgment will come soon enough, but for now our focus is on the establishment of the Lord’s Supper. During the meal Jesus stood up, wrapped a towel around His waist and proceeded to wash the feet of His disciples. In doing so, Jesus left us a great example of servant leadership for those who choose to follow His teachings and commandments.
However, there are several things we learn about the disciples and ourselves from this passage. First, the disciples entered the upper room EXPECTING to have their feet washed but none of them were willing to do the dirty work for others. It was tradition for the host to provide a servant to wash the feet of His guest. This was usually reserved for the lowest of the household servants. In this case, Jesus is the host for this Passover Meal and the servant He would provide would be Himself. It is little wonder the servants were unwilling to do this menial task when you consider the condition of the roads and who the road was shared with; it is not just people who walk these roads but animals and their droppings as well!
Secondly, the disciples did not understand the need for the cleansing they needed and were about to receive. Jesus plainly tells His disciples that “What I do you do not realize now…” When Jesus comes to Peter, he first refuses have his feet washed by Jesus and then swings to the other extreme by conceding to have his entire body washed! Jesus gently rebukes Peter, so he understands that it is only his feet that are dirty at the moment, the rest is clean and does not need cleansing. Still, Peter did not see the deeper, spiritual meaning Jesus was pointing to, he still saw only the human and physical act Jesus was about to perform.
Finally, even those who have been cleansed can betray Jesus. Judas was among the twelve disciples that Jesus called to follow Him. He spent three years with the Lord listening to His preaching and teaching; he watched as Jesus healed the sick and lame; he saw the miracles of Jesus in towns and cities around the countryside and yet, he still betrayed Jesus because his heart was filled with worldly greed and ambition. It is important to note that Jesus DID NOT choose the one who would betray Him. Jesus was broken hearted over the act of Judas.
Sadly, there are many in the church who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior who come to be served rather than serving others. We complain bitterly about the needy who come to our food pantry or worship service who look and act differently than we do, all while professing to do the work of the Lord. How many of us have come into our prayer time with a long list of requests for things we feel we need to live the Christian life we have been “called to live?” Our prayer time sounds more like a shopping list than a conversation with our heavenly Father. There is little time to spend learning the heart of the Father when our wants and wished fill our prayer time.
The same remains true for believers today when it comes to the cleansing Jesus offers to give us. The spiritual cleansing we receive is meant to wash our souls, the old person dying away and the new person arising to live a life for Christ. We forget or don’t understand that we have died to the old person, meaning our old habits, language, thinking, actions and reactions have been done away with. We can no longer watch as a person tears a brother or sister apart and say, “Oh well, that’s just Jane.” Or “That’s just the way he is. You get used to it.” If w have died with Christ in baptism and rise alive in Him we are a NEW CREATION!!! You are not as you were when you first came to Christ.
Finally, even those who have been cleansed betray Jesus. Yes, this include believers today. You and I included! Every time you walk past a hurting soul and avert your eyes, you betray Jesus. Every time you turn a deaf ear to a cry for help, you betray Jesus. Every time you berate a brother or sister in Christ, you betray Jesus. Every time you withhold the gospel message from the lost and hurting…YOU BETRAY JESUS. I understand that we must use wisdom and discernment when dealing with people. There is a fine line between helping and enabling. But as the body of Christ we are to carry about within us the power of the Holy Spirit for just such cases.Time is short and we are out of excuses. The final Passover Meal is at hand. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world will be sacrificed in a few hours. We must get right and get prepared for His soon coming return. So, where are you in this passage? Are you here to be served or to serve in the name of Christ? Do you understand the cleansing Jesus has provided for you? Are you that new creation born out of baptism or does your old self still dominate your daily life? When was the last time you betrayed Jesus? Who have you bypassed not wanting to deal with dirty work of serving others?
This Holy Week is meant to be a time of personal reflection and examination. These devotionals have come out of those times for me. What about you? Are you ready for the King to return?