Pastor's Blog

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.    
 For I have given you an example, that you should do just as I have done to you.”  (John 13.14-15)

There is no passage in Scripture that I despise more than the one above. 
I despise everything about it.
I despise what it says.
I despise the context in which it is placed.
I despise what it requires of me as a follower of Jesus Christ.

The context is the last supper.  These are the fourteenth and fifteenth verses of the chapter, but in the second verse John has already told us that Judas Iscariot was plotting to betray Jesus.  In the third verse of the chapter, John tells us that Jesus took this as from the Father in heaven – and then recounts that Jesus laid aside his garments and washed the feet of the disciples.

All the disciples.

Including Judas.

Immediately after the washing of the disciples’ feet Jesus announces that one of them is going to betray him, reveals to John that it is Judas, and then Judas leaves the room and disappears into the night, a wretched turncoat.

In my own life I don’t know that I have ever experienced anything uglier and more painful than betrayal by one who has been (or pretended to be) my long-time friend.  The level of deceit and outright lying that is involved is egregious enough;  it is made worse by the slander that goes on before the betrayal, raising doubts about you in the minds of other friends, and is compounded by the slander against you that goes on after the betrayal is consummated and your name and reputation are smeared unjustly to people you don’t even know and who will now approach you, if they care to approach you at all, with a distorted view of who you really are.

I cannot bring my heart to ever  trust them again – much less “wash their feet”, imagery that I take to mean “serve them”.  I don’t want to serve them.  I don’t even know that I want to hate them so much as to blot them entirely from my memory and never allow them to enter it again.  And when they do enter my mind for some reason, I want to relish loathing them.

And then Jesus says “do as I have done to you” – wash one another’s feet.

Including the feet, not merely of the one who has betrayed you – but the one who hasn’t yet betrayed you but you know is going to.

You are supposed to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He commands us to do so.  He has to command us to do so – because there are things about Him which are just downright unlovable.  And for me, this loving and serving a scoundrel that has betrayed you is one of those places.  How Jesus could do this is beyond what my heart can imagine.

But even as I write those words, my own heart knows how many times I have betrayed Him – and yet He is always there before me, washing my feet, and looking into my eyes and, without saying a word, piercing my soul and my conscience.

And I am so glad that He is there, garments laid aside, with a basin of water and a towel in his bleeding hands…

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