This COVID-19 is unexpected and kind of blows our minds, doesn’t it? Just a few weeks ago we were living our lives like usual until almost everything about normalcy came to a screaching hault.
And you know, that’s probably a feeling that people have experienced throughout history. From former plagues, wars, and even for some ragamuffin disciples back around 33AD.
I was thinking there’s no better time than now, as Easter is less than two weeks away, to spend some time pondering and processing the most unexpected and life-changing time in history that people experienced. And still do today. So, will you join me?
If so, let’s close our eyes for a moment and imagine walking down a dry and dusty dirt road, with buildings made of different shades of brown stones and bricks surrounding you on both sides. Your sandled feet are dusty and diry, along with the garment you’re wearing. As you turn right onto one of the side roads, you look up into the sky as the sun has gotten lower, seeing a few rows of thin clouds turning pink and orange in the darkening blue sky. As you’re journeying with your pals, you follow your mentor and dear friend into a building with two floors.
In the narrow cooridor, the sound of 26 feet stomping up the steps was in competition with the voices of men talking and laughing together. But once they were all at the top, their voices quieted and they all found a place to sit down on the blankets that covered part of the floor.
And that is the beginning of the end of Jesus’ physical life on this side of heaven.
“Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So, he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, ‘Lord are yo u going to wash my feet?’…Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. (John 13:1-6,17 NLT)
Once Jesus knew that “his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father”, the first thing he did was gather his people, his dear friends, and companions from the past three years together to spiritually practice the rituals for the Passover. Little did the 12 disciples know that what was about to happen was the first and new sacred practice of the Last Supper. But even before that meal, Jesus once again did an unexpected action that blew the guys minds.
Jesus prepared to wash their feet. That was one of the lowest of low jobs during that time and of course Peter pipes in, that he’s well known to be good at, and questions Jesus, not thinking Jesus is doing the right thing. Ahem. Have you ever questioned His sovereignty like Peter did? Like I have?
At the beginning of the most horrific and last hours of his life, Jesus continues to practice humility. I think humility births from love because God is love and is about to show the world for eternity what passionate love is all about. I just wonder…when Jesus held each man’s calloused and smelly feet, gently massaging them with dirty bubbles forming between his fingers, if he thought of his own feet about to be painfully pierced with a rusty nail hammered into his own feet.
I don’t know and that might be a question I ask Jesus one day when I see him face to face, but I don’t think he did. I think he thought about the love he had for each friend as he washed each one’s feet. I can imagine him thinking of the funny memories he had of particular times when they goofed off around a campfire, or how proud he was of him when he showed his growing faith and even trusting him so much, he walked on water with him. Or maybe he’s thinking how intently that buddy paid attention to him and respected him, and how his friend showed kindness and compassion to the widowed woman who needed a hug and embraced her without being nudged to do it.
Jesus, as he always was and is, of course had more than one purpose in this foot washing experience – show and teach the disciples to live with a heart to serve God, each other and all people as they took the message of salvation to the world after he had gone. Jesus also did it out of love. Another manuscript reads in verse 13:1 that Jesus had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and “he showed them the full extent of his love.” Washing their feet with love, the first step into a very dark night, was an example of a full extent of love for sure.