By Ruben Alvarado
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he 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.
Satan nudges Judas. “Are you ready for your moment? The time for betrayal is almost here. Just wait. Just get through this meal.”
This meal, on the eve of the Passover Festival, is shared by Jesus and His twelve. Two of them, brothers, watch as Jesus begins to wash the feet of His followers. “Peter, do you remember the first time we met Jesus?” asks Andrew. "How we dropped our nets and followed him? We knew it even then didn’t we Peter? He was the one!” Peter acknowledges his brother with a nod, but he can’t take his gaze off of Jesus. He washes John’s feet, then Judas’, then Andrew’s. Finally He kneels at Peter’s feet. It’s too much. He has to speak the words racing through his mind: “Lord, are you going to wash my feet too?” He wanted to plead with him “Please don’t, you’re our Lord.” He wanted to remind him “You’re the One the prophets spoke about. The Son of God, who would hold earthly and heavenly dominion upon His shoulders. Do You know who You are?”
Jesus assures him; “It’s okay Peter, you don’t understand right now, but you will. This whole thing, this Passover meal, this celebration, this foot washing. It’s about me. It’s about what I came here for. I know who I am Peter, It’s because I know who I am that I am washing your feet.” He dries Peter’s feet, and says; “You call me Lord and Teacher, and rightly so, for that is what I am. This foot washing is an example for you, so that you can do for others what I have done for you.”
One by one the Son of God cleans them. No one is left out. Twelve friends. Twelve pairs of feet. Twelve times the master makes himself the servant. Kneeling even to serve His betrayers. Peter, the one who would soon deny Jesus in the name of self-protection, and Judas, the one who would betray him for a pocketful of money, would do so with freshly washed feet.
The sacrificial act of going to the cross begins with a sacrificial act of service on the eve of Passover. No act of selflessness was too low, no act of sacrifice too costly, and no act of service too far beneath Him. Our Lord and Teacher knew His power, and His dominion. He displays it in sacrifice and service, and says, “I have set an example for you, that you should do as I have done for you. No servant is greater than his master.”
Let Us Pray
Lord, if it weren’t for Your grace I too would choose self-protection and pocket change over You. Please, please forgive me. Teacher, you have shown me Your heart. Please reveal my own heart to me, and draw it in line with Your example. (Pause and listen)
Lord, Thank You for making me clean. Thank You for drawing near to me even though I am undeserving. Teacher, You have shown humility. Please reveal to me the ways I have exemplified self-aggrandizement instead of selfless service, and draw me in line with Your example. (Pause and Listen)
Thank You Jesus. Amen
Ruben Alvarado is pastor of local outreach and hospitality at Imago Dei.