“So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.””
– John 13:2-8
Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. Even so, He humbled Himself, yet again. He humbled Himself as if coming to earth was not enough, as if the countless miracles He performed up to that point had not been enough. He kept humbling Himself to show us exactly why He came in the first place: to serve us. He came to serve us in the hopes of being in relationship with us. He came to wash the muck and the dirt off our feet. He came to show us that we are not slaves to sin, but that we find freedom in Him.
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son we hear that when the younger son returns home his father calls for the servants to put sandals on his feet. Why? Because slaves and hired workers, the poorest and most neglected, wore no shoes. Their feet were dirty, calloused, and disgusting. Those who were no longer slaves or had money, wealth, and riches wore shoes. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples to show us all that we are no longer slaves. He came to wash our feet, free us from slavery, and invite us to deeper relationship with Him, but all too often we follow the example of Saint Peter and tell Jesus that He will not wash our feet.
If Jesus came and asked to wash my feet, or even if He simply told me that He would, I imagine that I’d react in one of the following ways:
No way, no how.
Are you kidding me?
I hate having my feet touched, even if you are Jesus.
Let me clean them off first.
Let me wash Your feet!
You aren’t washing my feet.
Can’t we relate to Saint Peter in that sense? Peter, who screwed up more often than not (at least from what we read in the gospels), tells Jesus that He isn’t washing his feet. No way! I imagine Peter being stubborn because he simply couldn’t fathom the thought of the Christ humbling Himself anymore. If only Saint Peter knew what was to come! We too turn away from Christ’s invitation to wash our feet. We’d rather be enslaved by our sins and are too ______ to go to confession (scared, prideful, fill in the blank for yourself). We’d rather be a slave to checking Facebook, Twitter, and our blog stats than have Christ wash our feet and free us from slavery. We’d rather stick to our usual routine and know the pecking order than have our world turned upside down by yet another humbling act of love from Christ Himself.
Jesus’ response to Peter, and to us, spells it out in no uncertain terms, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me” (John 13:8). If you want the inheritance, if you desire Heaven, if your heart longs for a deeper relationship with Jesus, allow Him to wash your feet. Allow Him to free you from slavery and come after your heart with His passionate love.
If you think that Jesus washing your feet is an act of humbling love…just wait until Good Friday. This is the week that we learn just what love truly means.