Summary: Jesus understood full well that in a few short hours all those 24 feet that were so wonderfully cleansed would soon desert Him and run for their life and flee from His presence... And He knows it. They don’t know it. Only the feet of John would stay put.
Disaster struck me one day when I was a boy. I don’t know where in the world my little sister came back to the house real dirty and smelly. Some type of dark sticky slimy stinky substance was all over her and she was crying up loud. She had tried to get rid of it by using her dirty hand and as you can imagine, this just aggravated the whole situation. She looked like a hideous monster, sort of. She accidentally feels down into the cow manure pit. It was a whole in the ground in the back garden, where my father put everything that our cow metabolism produced… to become organic fertilizer. And my sister… after a rainy night…
There she was crying and crying.... It became my task (privilege?) to clean up that pup. It was an exceedingly unpleasant task. And I can tell you of several more unpleasant tasks I’ve had in my life of cleaning up things. I even had to change a diaper one time. Only once. That was the day of the cloth diaper.
One day Jesus had a very unpleasant task to do. And, Jesus was sick. He was heart-sick. He knew that in twenty-four hours He would be dead. And, His spirit was heavy. Thirteen men trudged up a dark stairway to an upstairs room. Supper was about to be served. You can read all this in John 13 beginning in verse 2.
Custom dictated that before the meal they would need to have their feet washed. I don’t know why they didn’t wash their hands first, exactly how that fit in, but they wanted to have the feet clean before the meal was eaten. Usually the task of feet cleaning was relegated to a servant, in fact to the lowest slave that you could find. This job was very unpleasant. Do you enjoy smelling a sweaty stinky foot?
ILL. Our apartment in Romania was close to the train station. And one of our distant relatives, Emil, who happens to run a small business two hundred miles from us, discovered how convenient is to have a place to stay for free while he was around shopping for his business, in our area. So from time to time, he stopped by our apartment just before the supper time, to stay for the night, because early in the morning, he suppose to catch the train to go back… So he was knocking at the door after a whole day of work and he made himself comfortable, putting off his shoes. O man… what a stinky smelly feet!... It was a nightmare for us: every time when we spotted him trough the door visor, the joy of life disappeared from our family…
You know that God has place our nose about as far away as he could from our feet. When you kneel to wash someone’s feet, did you ever think that your nose is located at the about as close as it can be to someone’s stinky feet. I know that today everybody here are in the cleanest physical shape possible because we took a shower in the morning and we put on clean socks anyway. But not so in the upper room, up there….
Imagine Jesus, the Creator of this Unvers, the King and the Master, washing 24 of those types of feet! Nobody wanted to lower themselves to perform that low-down chore. In fact, their thinking was not focused on humility but on status at that point.
So, Jesus got up and took the towel from its peg and got the basin from its corner in the room and in silence He knelt before the nearest disciple. He loosened the leather straps and one by one He took each filthy foot in His own hand and began to tenderly wash away all traces of dirt and filth. The same hands that fashioned the galaxies of the Universe now cleansed away all filth and grit. Fingers that formed the foundations of the world were now drying toes. After gently drying each foot, those same hands that would soon have nail holes in both them replaced each sandal and tied the straps back on. Those lips that would soon be black and blue from beating and parched from thirst, smiled in love at each amazed disciple. And those eyes that would soon grow glassy from death on the cross gazed into the depths of their hearts.
Jesus understood full well that in a few short hours all those 24 feet that were so wonderfully cleansed would soon desert Him and run for their life and flee from His presence. Jesus was washing the feet of a bunch of deserters. That’s what He was doing. And He knows it. They don’t know it. Only the feet of John would stay put. I imagine that as Jesus came along and washed the feet of Judas that He had some rare thoughts in His mind. He knew that those feet would soon hang lifeless from a tree in a field of blood. Yet He continued washing. He washed Judas knowing that Judas had future plans to harm Him.