Washing and Service

As I continue to read through the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, I come to the passage in John 13 when Jesus is washing the feet of His disciples.  When He gets to Peter, a powerful conversation occurs.  Peter feels uncomfortable allowing Jesus to serve him in this way.  He stops Jesus and says, “Never shall You wash my feet!”  A blatant refusal, Peter does not understand what is happening.  Jesus replies, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

What does that mean?  

I get what Peter is saying.  Peter, after all, was the first to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah.  Why would the Christ, the Son of God, wash his feet?  Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

But Jesus was teaching Peter, and you and me, a truth that we must get this Easter week: Jesus must serve us.  I know this for two reasons.

First, it is God’s nature to point out of Himself.  God is selfless and giving and does not do anything out of selfish ambition.  It is like the sun trying to be dark.  It can’t happen.  God is love.  To ask for our service without first serving us goes against His very grain.  He always goes first.

Secondly, He must serve us to cleanse us from unrighteousness.  We cannot do this for ourselves.  We cannot save ourselves from our sins.  We cannot make up the difference for the mistakes we’ve made.  Only Jesus can bridge the gap.  If we don’t allow Him to serve us, we will miss the whole point.  If we don’t allow Jesus to offer His life in our behalf, we will miss salvation completely.  He must wash our feet to save us.

Peter finally understood.  I love Peter’s response to Jesus. “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but my hands and my head.”

As we continue to sit with our fickle nature and lack of faithfulness to God, let us remember to allow Jesus to wash our feet, our hands, and our heads.