Jesus washed the feet of Judas Iscariot – the man who later that evening betrayed Jesus when he led a detachment of soldiers and officials to arrest him. Many of us have at some point and in some way betrayed people that love us. I know that I have.
Jesus washed the feet of his disciples who later that evening let him down by falling asleep as he prayed at Gethsemane, full of anguish and sorrow. He was so full of anguish in prayer that Jesus began to sweat drops of blood. The prospect of the cross was looming. The pressure of the cross was at hand. Jesus asked his disciples to watch and wait and to pray they would not fall into temptation and his disciples fell asleep. Jesus asks us to watch and pray and we fall asleep on the job. I know that I have.
Jesus washed the feet of Peter, who later that night denied even knowing Jesus, not once but three times!
A servant girl said to him, “You were with Jesus!” But Peter flatly denied it. Many of us this week and even this day have denied Jesus. We’ve watched injustice unfolding before our very eyes and we’ve done nothing or said nothing. We’ve been ashamed or silent about our faith; silent about our love for Jesus. I know that I have.
‘The evening meal was being served and the devil had already prompted Judas 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. He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet’ (John 13:2-5a).
Soon to be betrayed by Judas, let down by his disciples, and denied 3 times by Peter – Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash their feet.
After washing every foot without discrimination based on past or future performance or faithfulness – Jesus says to his team, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (13:15).
And we need to take it out on to the streets; because if we keep it in the building then one day there will be no-one left. If we keep it in the building then one day there will be no-one left.
Friends – we are not just here to identify with Judas, the disciples and with Peter and to repent of our sins! No, we are also here to receive afresh the call of Jesus to do for one another what he has done for us.
What did Jesus say? He said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (13:14).
I’m not going to pass round bowls of water. That could end up as nothing more than a gimmick; but I do want us to think for a moment about people we have let down and people we have denied; and then to think about people who have betrayed us, let us down or denied us. Some of the people may be the same.
It could be people and relationships from years ago, or a recent broken friendship.
Jesus washed the feet of the one who betrayed him. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples who fell asleep and let him down. Jesus washed the feet of Peter who denied even knowing him; and the same Jesus said to his followers, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (13:15).
What would it look like for us to metaphorically wash the feet of those we have sinned against? What would it look like for us to metaphorically wash the feet of those who have sinned against us?
Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (13:14).