Ears to Hear: Reflections on Holy Week, Thursday
On Thursday afternoon of Holy Week, preparations for the Passover meal would have been in full swing. From 3:00-5:00, lambs all over the city were being slaughtered for the meal of remembrance that was to take place. It was a meal that ultimately pointed at Christ and it would be partaken just hours before Jesus was going to be the fulfillment of that meal. In John 13:1, we are given a window into the heart, mind, and soul of Jesus in the moments that were leading up to dinner: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
He loved them to the end! What an amazing, beautiful, haunting statement. With that the He knew and was certainly experiencing internally, He stooped down and washed the feet of the disciples. If you have ever had someone wash your feet, you know what a vulnerable and intimate act it is. About 10 years ago, a mentor washed my feet and I was drawn to a place of feeling so out of place. I felt like Peter … no! I should be washing your feet. What I realized in the moment was that I am very comfortable loving and serving others (as imperfectly as I do that) but I don’t do well at letting others love me. Sure, I don’t mind being served and given gifts or encouraged, but having someone love me in my vulnerability, in intimacy is difficult. And, in the first century world, added to the feelings of vulnerability were the cultural expectations that only a slave or perhaps a child would wash someone’s feet.
Jesus took on the form of a servant (in His most vulnerable moment on earth up to that point) and He did it joyfully. He loved the disciples by serving them, by letting go of His vulnerability to reach them in theirs. And, He does that even today. He desires to reach into the vulnerable places of our lives and love us by gently cleaning us up.
Do you let Jesus love you in the vulnerable, intimate (maybe hidden) places of your life? Take a few moments and put yourself in the scene of John 13. Read through the verses and see yourself there. Think about a vulnerable, hidden place of you and let it reside in your feet. Imagine Him scrubbing and cleaning your feet. See the sweat on His brow and the firmness and gentleness of His touch. Sit with this image for several minutes.
What do you feel? What is it like to be served by the God of the Universe?
Jesus says, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” (13:7) He was referring to the fact that this act of washing the feet was done as a loving gesture by itself (to be emulated as we serve others in various ways) but also as a picture of the spiritual cleansing that comes when we confess our sin to Him. We receive a “bath” through the forgiveness that comes as we put our faith in Christ based on His sacrifice on the cross. Because of that bath, we are in a secure relationship with Him, but we still sin and are in need to spot cleaning in the day to day.
As we come to Him with our sin, He bends down to wash those sins away. What vulnerability do you need to share with Him? What sin do you need to confess? Confess in 1 John 1:9 means “to say the same thing as.” Take the time to talk to Him so that you can say about your sin what He does. This process, however, slow is part of allowing Him to wash your feet. Make sure that you hear Him talk about the sin from His perspective and that you heart Him speaks words of love and forgiveness and acceptance and that there is no condemnation.