Jesus was no ordinary king. He didn't require all the bells and whistles that often go with the title. Instead He chose the lower road, the one less traveled by kings and rather be served, He served. What kind of king is this many asked in His days on this earth? They expected a stallion and a sword and commands. They wanted Him to conquer and destroy. But they got a king who would command followers to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. And then to love others as you would love yourself. No ordinary king indeed! And when the going got tough, He retreated and began to pray in some distant place away from the crowds. Could this really be the promised Messiah?
Today in the life of the Brethren church, we prove the point even further by gathering for our fall Love Feast, something we Brethren hold very near to our hearts. Yet over the generations, there appears to be somewhat a decline in attendance. I evaluated the reasons behind this and understand the craziness of our lives. But then I thought about this king and what He demonstrated to us. Not only demonstrating but telling His disciples to do the same.
Now today we can minimize what He was really saying and pass it off as symbolic act. But is that really what's happening here. Take another look at the passage in John 13: 1-1 "It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “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.”
Did you read what I read? Do as I have done for you. As a matter of fact He goes even further and says you will be blessed if you do them.
I understand feet are gross. They have an odor. They can look rather awkward. But feet to Jesus meant so much more. As He told Peter who essentially wanted an entire bath, the feet were all that needed cleansed. Such deeper meaning in this act of humility than we realize. But today I chose something different. I didn't wash another's feet. I had my 7 year old with me and he preferred to wash one another's hands. I walked hand and hand with him to the basin and towel. I washed his hands first and dried them off. He learned quickly and did the same for me. Then we hugged and said I love you. That was it. The moment was over and I'll admit I understand why offering this for certain individuals is important. But for me, if this were every time we "washed feet", I feel I'd be missing out on an opportunity to serve and be served in a completely humble way. For me, I guess it list the significance of the passage. Kneeling down, taking an often neglected part of the body and making it clear. That's what Jesus is talking about. Serving one another despite our differences. Loving one another beyond our views. This was no ordinary King and to share that experience today is like no other. It's the definition of our existence as followers of Christ. We share in His service to others by doing the same.
May we reclaim this beautiful, simple act in a world that needs our love. Might we in many significant other ways wash the feet of the communities we live in. Be blessed in doing so.