“I have set before you an example, that you should do as I have done for you”
Young John reclined with a full stomach. His ears were filled with the squabbling of his brother and several others as they again debated who would be first in this new kingdom that seemed days from being established. Thousands had come out to see the Lord as they came into town to celebrate the Passover.
Voices began to be raised and John gave his brother an angry glance that he hoped might finally shut him up. Next to him Jesus suddenly rose to his feet and unclothed himself wrapping a towel around only his waist. The squabbles ceased immediately and the room grew so deathly silent John could clearly hear the nervous breaths being taken as they looked on at their teacher. “What is this my Lord is doing?” John thought.
As Jesus filled a basin with water they now all knew what he intended and some gasped. John saw Peter shaking his head in disbelief and disgust and John understood what Peter was thinking because he felt the same.
Their Lord now looked like a common house servant, chest bare and a towel draped over his shoulder. He moved quietly with the basin and towel and kneeled at the feet of Peter placing the basin on the floor. “You shall never wash my feet!” Peter yelled in confused revile.
“If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” Jesus said to him flatly. A look of fear washed over Peter’s face at hearing this. “Lord, not my feet only, but my hands, and my head.” Peter stammered out. The Lord took and untied Peter’s filthy sandal and began to wash the grime from his feet that had collected from the days travels.
“What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Jesus said.
The Lord moved then to young John and kneeled. John felt a single tear roll out of his eye and down his cheek as the Lord poured the cool water over the first foot. This Lord, this teacher of his had taken his position as their Lord and teacher and thrown it aside to make himself like a lowly child or a house maid. He used the hands that healed the lame, the blind, and the sick to now scrub the muck from young John’s feet.
Jesus then moved on to Judas. John watched on, his Lord’s back was now to him. Then John saw something as the Lord untied the sandals of Judas, a peculiar almost sickened look of sorrow twisted its way into Judas’ face. Judas turned his head and would not even look toward the Lord kneeled in front of him working to clean his feet. Jesus moved throughout the room, changing the water several times as it grew mucky. When finished he washed his hands and clothed himself.
He stood before them looking around the room meeting the eyes of each of the twelve.
“You call me teacher and Lord, and rightly so for that is what I am. Now that I your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.”
Jesus moved back to his place at the table and reclined.
“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen but this is to fulfill this passage of scripture: He who shared my bread has turned against me. I am telling you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
Jesus lowered his head and young John watched a look of great anguish spilled across the Lord’s face. He suddenly seemed very troubled.
“Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” Jesus said in a voice mixed with both anger and sadness.
Many people recoil or even wish to debate about Jesus’ demand on our lives. We read the parts of the Bible that aren’t so intrusive and convicting and go about mimicking the sometimes lukewarm devotion of the Christians around us rather than really looking at the type of devotion Jesus asks for, and the funny thing is, is that those of us that refuse to give everything over to Him are giving everything over to something else, whether it be a job, a person, a drug, material possessions, or something else that provides for us worldly pleasure, comfort, or false security. We are more than ready to worship any of these things while, if we are honest, we want to use Jesus as kind of a tool.
We often want to add Jesus to the lives we already have, we stick him in our pocket and think “This will be good to have around when times get tough.” Many times without even realizing it we’ve made Jesus our disciple. The plain and simple truth is that this type of devotion does not make us a disciple of Jesus Christ any more than occasionally flying on an airplane makes us a pilot.
I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking “The bible says all that’s required is that I believe.” This is a lie that the devil has been hard at work propagating for some time now. How often do we hear verses like John 3:16 being pulled out of its deep context and used as a blanket statement wrapping it around the entire word of God?
Its plain lunacy and I can’t say it enough or strongly enough to convey here just how incorrect this is and not, by the way, incorrect by my standards but incorrect according to the text of the Bible. I would encourage you not to take my word for it, please read and see what conclusions you draw yourself.
How misguided this thinking is becomes apparent when we do the same with other verses such as for example 1John 2:6 whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. Now if we were to take this verse out of its context and paste it across the entire bible as the sole meaning of faith in Christ many people that aren’t reading their bible like they should might get the idea that Christianity requires homelessness and martyrdom because that is how Jesus lived.
Why don’t we take any of the multitude of hard verses, rip them out of their proper context and hold them high as a banner for Christianity? Two words personal preference, we don’t like those verses. It’s that simple. Those verses ask too much of us.
We need to keep reading when we come to a verse like John 3:16 just as we need to keep reading when we come to a verse like 1John 2:6. When we do we see that the apostle John isn’t for a second saying all we need to do to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is be able to say “I believe” and then we can go about living the remainder of our lives as we see fit. You cannot read the book of John or even that 3rd chapter in John and come away thinking that, it’s just not possible, but many, some even pastors with P.H.D’s will tell you this is all that’s required.
Jesus Christ left the perfection of His throne in heaven to be born in a manure filled barn, to be the son of a lowly carpenter in a small back woods town. He lived a sinless life until the age of thirty-three and then walked himself into a town where He knew men would scourge Him, beat Him, spit in His face, and nail Him to a tree and on that tree He would bear the wrath of the Father.
Jesus already gave all for you and me, and while He was here on this planet He was very vocal about the kind of devotion was required to be His disciple. When we read the Gospels we can see His reaction to those that were unwilling to give all over to Him. He gave us many parables spelling out, in no uncertain terms, His very real expectations. And what of the Father’s expectations? What might our expectations be if we surrendered our child to be beaten and executed to pay a ransom for which He was not responsible?
The Lord’s brother said “Even the demons believe” might this be also the Lord’s response when we see him and tell Him how we “Believed?”
Shouldn’t we expect the Lord to be interested in how we’ve lived?
He will be, His Word tells that again and again.
His example here before these first twelve disciples tells us how we should live. Jesus here again casts off any claim to His mighty position as Lord and amidst the selfish squabbling of His followers He takes the position of a Slave scrubbing the grime from their feet. Have you ever really thought about what that would be like, to scrub the feet of twelve men that had spent the day walking practically barefoot through roads and fields where multitudes of livestock roam?
Salvation comes through belief yes but also then repentance. We must die to ourselves, meaning we put aside completely our preferences, our pleasures, and our plans and make Him and His Word central to our lives going forward. We lay all at His feet because He has already given all for us. As He washed clean the feet of the first disciples His blood washes us clean before Father today.
We pray for the Spirit to guide us. The places He may take us might be hard, the truth is that Jesus just might ask us to give it all away but it’s when we are willing to lose all for Him that we truly begin a life of discipleship.
This isn’t easy and we aren’t going to be perfect at it, the apostle Paul tells us so. We will always be struggling and striving to live by the Spirit but struggle and strive we must! Being compelled to struggle and driven to strive for a life more and more free of sin and closer and closer to Christ and to the Father is a miraculous sign of the seal we’ve received in the gift of the Holy Spirit.
He will convict us, instruct us, admonish us, empower, and strengthen us for the very real war being waged.
The war for our immortal soul.