Jesus gathered with His disciples in the Upper Room to observe the Passover Feast, as other Jewish families were doing. It was to be His last meal with those He had supped with for more than three years. He knew this, and He knew the fate that awaited Him in the next twenty-four hours. Surely His heart was already heavy with the weight of the coming cross, but our key verse says He bore something more than grief. He bore a heart of love for these men who followed Him. He had laughed with them, taught them, chastened them, worked miracles with and through them, and opened their minds to amazing things of the Kingdom. And now it was the end, and He had one last expression of Himself to show them.
This passage in John 13 is where Jesus washes His disciples’ feet before the meal, a job usually done by a servant or other “lesser” person. It was not a pleasant chore, but a necessary one and a traditional sign of welcome. Yet there was no servant to wash the men’s feet, and clearly all of the disciples thought themselves above such a menial and distasteful task. No doubt they all looked at the others and thought, “You should be the one to wash our feet.” They never imagined who would.
Their Lord rose from his place, removed his outer garments and took the towel and basin to the pitcher of water and poured. Imagine the shocked silence that filled the room at the sight of their beloved Teacher, kneeling before the first man, removing his dusty sandals and touching the filthy feet before Him. Surely all that could be heard was the splashing of water as He moved around the room. Peter wanted to spare His Lord such humiliation, and drew back his feet, but Jesus refused to pass him by. When the task was done, Jesus told them to take His example and live by this expression of humility and service.
I have pondered this scene in my mind the past several days, and something strikes me about it. John (who was the only gospel writer to record this scene) never says that anyone washed the feet of Jesus that day. Perhaps one of them did, but surely John would not leave out such an important detail.
There will come a day – sooner or perhaps later – when I will see Him face to glorious face. When I bow before Him in grateful adoration, I want to wash my Jesus’ feet. I want to hold those beautiful feet in my hands. I want to splash water from the River of Life (Rev. 22:1) on His feet.
The gospels record two occasions when women washed and anointed Jesus’ feet. But the feet they caressed did not bear the scars from the cross. Those precious marks would come after their acts of love. They washed the feet of Jesus their Teacher; I want to wash the feet of Jesus my Savior. I want to touch the imprints left by the nails and kiss the scars that bought my redemption. He bears the marks of His love for me on His body, on His hands, His feet, His side and His brow. I want to show Him “the full extent of my love” (Jn 13:1 NIV), that I will love Him forever – “to the end” (NKJV).
I want to wash my Savior’s feet. The feet that kicked against the swaddling clothes in the manger. The feet that carried the Teacher to the shores of Galilee. The feet that walked the dusty road of the Via Dolorosa. The feet that bore the weight of His body and the weight of my sin on the cross. Those beautiful, glorious nail-scarred feet that speak of this sinner who has been set free.
My Savior, my Jesus, on your perfect body remain the scars of my redemption. I pray for the privilege of washing Your feet to show you my love – to the end. Amen.