Washing Feet (20-03-23)
Psalm of Praise: Psalms 117:1-2
Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.
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!"
Imagine the scene. You are one of Jesus’ disciples. You walk with him on the dusty road from Bethany to Jerusalem. You get to the room he has reserved for the Passover Meal and, part way through the meal, Jesus gets down from the table, takes off his outer garment, thus appearing as a servant, and then proceeds to wash your feet. A role reserved for the lowest of servants.
I wonder how you feel. What thoughts go through your head?
I imagine an awkward silence until Peter pipes up, challenging Jesus, clearly misunderstanding what he is doing.
The teachings of Jesus often challenge our preconceived ideas and the philosophies of the world around us. The last shall be first. The least is the greatest. Love your enemy. Turn the other cheek. Being counter-cultural is not easy, but Jesus is our role model.
Washing someone’s feet was a menial task and doesn’t have an obvious cultural parallel today. I wonder what tasks you can think of that might equate, tasks that we might normally get someone to do for us but that we could offer to do for someone else as an act of service.
Foot washing was also a very intimate act, challenging the dignity of both the giver and the receiver. Whilst many avoid overt expressions of intimacy today, those who need personal care; the elderly, the disabled and the sick, and those who give such care, have no choice.
Giving and receiving acts of kindness can be awkward for the receiver as well as for the giver and some people find it difficult to accept help. And yet Jesus’ example to us to serve one another will only work if we all learn to give and to receive, to serve and to be served, to help and to be helped. Which all sounds a bit like Jesus words, ‘Love one another’.
Lord Jesus, teach me to serve as you served and, when others offer to serve me, give me the grace to receive.
Bother, sister, let me serve you.