Summary: This message is designed to direct the audiences attention to the most important thing in our lives - being intimately connected to God.
The Most Important Thing
Part 3 in the series, The Journey To Jerusalem
March 24, 2002
It’s Thursday night. Jesus and His disciples are gathered together for their last meal together. There was no servant waiting to greet them at the door. No one to wash their dusty feet. It’s just the thirteen of them in an upstairs room with a table full of food. It’s a private party tonight.
John has been watching Jesus and cannot help but notice that his Master, teacher and dearest friend has a heavy heart this evening. The rest of the disciples seem to have an air of concern about them as well. The room is filled with a sense of… not so much tension as… uneasiness. There’s a sort of anxiety looming around everyone.
The meal was pleasant and everyone has settled into a comfortable rhythm of conversation when suddenly Jesus stood up from the table and proceeded to the corner of the room. In just a matter of seconds all eyes were fixed on the Master as He proceeded to take off His robe and then fill a basin with water. But it’s what happened next that astounded them all. Jesus, the Messiah, their Lord approached Philip, got down on His hands and knees and began to wash Philip’s feet like a lowly servant!
You could hear the disciples quietly murmuring among themselves, “What in the world is He doing!” “This is crazy! Why is our Lord washing our feet!” As Jesus approaches each disciple he is dumbfounded. The Lord, with an easy, comforting smile on His face, proceeds to take each foot, gently wash it clean and then dries it with the towel wrapped around His waist.
Around the table the Master moves until he reaches the final disciple. Peter protests, “Lord, why are You going to wash my feet?” It was a reasonable question after all. I mean what self-respecting rabbi would lower himself low enough to wash the filth from his students feet? It was unthinkable! As Jesus begins to pour the water over Peter’s feet, Peter pulls away and cries out “No! You shall never wash my feet!” Actually, his words were so emphatic that what Peter is really saying is, “No Teacher! You shall never wash my feet to all eternity!”
When you really stop and think about it, Peter’s reaction is understandable. After all, we are talking about having the Son of God, Lord of Lords, King of all Creation, stoop down to wash feet, right? It’s a pretty humbling proposition. But Jesus’ reply stunned Peter. “Peter”, Jesus explains, “If I don’t wash you, then you will never belong to me.” Phew! Wow, how do you respond to a statement like that? You see Jesus wanted Peter to understand that He wasn’t merely interested in making Peter socially acceptable, but that this act of foot washing represented something far more significant. One writer put it this way:
“Jesus’ rejoinder, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me,” expresses the necessity, not only for the cleansing of Peter’s feet to make him socially acceptable for the dinner, but also for the cleansing of his personality to make him fit for the kingdom of God. The external washing was intended to be a picture of spiritual cleansing from evil.”
Upon hearing this Peter, desiring to be intimately connected to his Master, replies, “Then Lord, give me a bath!” You see, Peter continued to miss the spiritual lesson, but he was certain of his desire to be joined to Jesus. Therefore he asked Jesus to wash his hands and head as well as his feet. Jesus answered, A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; the rest of his body is clean. The lesson Jesus was teaching here is that after salvation all one needs to do is confess one’s sins. This principle is made clear by John in his first epistle when he writes “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
After washing all of the disciples feet the Lord puts His robe back on, takes His seat again among His friends and proceeds to explain Himself…
After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, "Do you understand what I was doing?  You call me ’Teacher’ and ’Lord,’ and you are right, because it is true.  And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.  How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them.  You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing.