Washed Clean (10-10-22)
Psalm of Praise: Psalms 61:1-2
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Bible Reading: John 13:4-9
Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet,
drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"
Like many people I was challenged by the words of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his wonderful sermon at the funeral of our late Queen Elizabeth.
People of loving service are rare in any walk of life,
Leaders of loving service are still rarer.
But in all cases those who serve will be loved and remembered
when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten.
Washing the feet of guests who have travelled on the dusty roads of the Middle East was the job of the lowest of servant in his master’s household. Not surprisingly then, Peter is appalled at the prospect of Jesus washing his feet. In this one action Jesus was being as radical as he was in many of his teachings and miracles. And yet this act of service, this abject humility, is still remembered two thousand years later. This act of service turns the meaning of good leadership on its head.
The epitome of servant-hearted leadership, though, is Jesus the Good Shepherd, laying down his life for us, his sheep, so that you and I can be forgiven. This was a one-off action, done once and for all for the sins of humanity. The foot-washing event, on the other hand, reminds me that we need to come to Jesus daily and, like Peter, allow him to cleanse us from the grime and dust that we pick up every day.
As Christians, Jesus has elevated us from the position of slaves to the status of sons and daughters of God and inheritors, with Christ, of glory. As followers of Jesus though, let us not forget the example of our leader, let us instead take off our metaphorical outer garments, wrap a towel around our waist, and serve those around us in the name of Jesus.
Foot washing was culturally relevant to Jesus time and place, and served a practical purpose. I wonder what acts of service would be culturally relevant and serve a practical purpose today.
Lord Jesus, Servant King, teach me to serve others, that in serving them I might serve you.
The Servant King