“Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.'” (John 13:8)
Frequently, Bible teachers use John 13 to encourage servanthood. Without question, Jesus gave us a beautiful, humble, and loving example of servanthood as He washed the disciples’ feet. Certainly, His example reminds us that He desires for each of us to serve one another. Has a servant of Christ ever washed your feet? If so, would you agree that you experienced an uncomfortable sense of personal unworthiness? Please encourage my heart by confirming that thoughts plummeted your mind like, “If I had only made an appointment for that pedicure!” Or, “When will this be over?!!” And, finally, “Oh no! Tears will soon begin to moisten my cheeks!” While some interpret this passage to mean that we are to physically wash one another’s feet, which is a beautiful act, I believe Jesus longs for our hearts to grasp much more from this passage. Only recently, my thoughts landed on a poignant truth that Jesus also taught in John 13, mainly, ongoing cleansing from the daily pollution of sin.
Would you mind if I set the stage for this awkward interlude between Peter and Jesus? Then, I believe that we will have a clearer understanding behind Peter’s initial resistance to Jesus’ request. In Judaism, it was the servant who was expected to wash feet, a task considered quite menial. Accordingly, the servant-hearted desire of Jesus to wash Peter’s feet was a shocking reversal of roles! Peter could not anticipate this; and thereby, experienced difficulty receiving this washing from Jesus. In what follows Jesus’ reply to Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me,” we can almost hear Peter’s cry from the pages of Scripture as he begged for Jesus to wash not only his feet, but his hands, and his head, too! Because Peter was already baptized into Christ, Jesus reminded him that he was already clean. Peter, like us, was in need of forgiveness from the sins of that day. Oh, how my heart is drawn to Peter’s corrected response to Jesus, which evidenced that he was anxious to have a part with Christ! While Peter made many rash mistakes early on in his walk with Christ, I am both captivated and challenged by his craving to fully know Jesus. Often throughout the New Testament, we see evidence of Peter’s complete abandonment of heart to know and walk with Jesus.
Remember what Jesus said to Peter, ”If I do not wash you, you have no part with me?” The “Washing,” Jesus demonstrated here referred to Peter’s need for spiritual cleansing from sin’s daily pollution. As I pictured Jesus kneeling there at each of the disciples’ feet, even the feet of Judas Iscariot, my heart felt overwhelmed! See, I still battle the lie that my “Good” performance earns His love and that my “Poor” performance repels Him. So, seeing Jesus tackling sin head-on by washing the feet of the disciples, especially the feet of Judas Iscariot, flooded my face with tears! Rather than turning away from our sins, Jesus passionately yearns to wash away our daily sins. Through His washing, we can increasingly have more of a part with Him. Would you consider asking the Holy Spirit to show you what Jesus longs to wash away from your life today? Right now, He kneels beside us with His hands in that water basin, eager to wash away all that pollutes our souls this day. As we allow Him to wash away our daily sins, just like peering through a freshly cleaned pane of glass, He will then shine more and more brightly through our lives.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Song – “Wash Me Away” by Brett Rush