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John43 – washing someone else’s feet

So when he washed their feet and laid hold of his clothes and lay down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me ‘the Teacher’ and ‘the Lord,’ and you state rightly, because I am.” (John 13: 12)
The above took place on the evening which led into the day of crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth around AD 30 in Jerusalem. John, the first century eye-witness biographer of Jesus (who saw him die and knew him well after he rose again) recalling it all. See “John43 – the upper room”.

Jesus is their Teacher and the Lord. He was willingly allowing himself to be executed by his enemies in order to receive upon himself the judgment his enemies deserved. Having taken that judgment on himself, he would then be able to forgive those evildoers freely for all their evil deeds. 

Not only all that, he is – here - the one who loves-in-action others to the end of time and to the utmost of his own self-abasement. He is the washer of feet. He is the one who by his whole being and by his every action makes known the cleansing forgiveness he has purchased for others at the cross. 

“So, if I myself —the Lord and the Teacher—washed your feet, you yourselves also owe to wash the feet of one another. Because I gave to you an example in order that, just as I myself did to you, you also may do.”

If the Lord and the Teacher of them is really their Lord and their Teacher, they owe (like a debt) to follow his example. They ought to make him known even to the extent of being totally humiliated by doing so.

“Amen, amen I state to you, a slave is not greater than the lord of him, nor even a messenger greater than the one sending him. If you have discerned these things, you are blessed if you may do them.” 

They ought to do these things because they are not greater than Jesus. Those who actually “discern” this are indeed blessed – if they actually do what’s pictured by this foot-washing.

That may be AOK but have you seen a big problem with it? The problem is that Jesus had just washed also the feet of Judas Iscariot. Was he included among those who would himself be blessed by doing foot-washing to others?

“I do not state concerning everyone of you. I myself discern whom I chose but, in order that the scripture may be fulfilled, ‘the one consuming my bread took up his heel upon me.’”

Jesus excluded one of his disciples from his statement of the blessedness of those who, discerning the real Jesus, actually do the foot-washing. He knew his chosen. He knew also the one who only purported to be one of his disciples, the one who even consumed “his bread”. 

Jesus was not referring to this man when he said to his disciples: “If you discern these things, you are blessed if you do them.” But this man did have his feet washed by Jesus. Jesus had made known to him the love of God. 

“From now I state to you, before its coming itself to be, so that when it itself may come to be you may believe that I myself am.”

Jesus knew all the way along that, in choosing his disciples, he had chosen who would give him away to death. He knew the one who would reject him as Teacher and Lord whilst pretending otherwise. 

He wanted all his other disciples to know that he knew this – and to know that he, their Lord and their Teacher, had washed that person’s feet. He wanted his true disciples to do likewise. Why? 

‘From heaven you came helpless babe/ Entered our world, your glory veiled/ Not to be served but to serve/ And give Your life that we might live/ This is our God, The Servant King/ He calls us now to follow Him….’ (Graham Kendrick)
“Amen, amen I state to you, the one laying hold of anyone I may send lays hold of me; in fact, the one laying hold of me lays hold of the one having sent me.” 

When a true disciple of Jesus, in Jesus’ name, washes the feet of others (including those who secretly give Jesus away to death), he or she will have been appointed by Jesus so to do - appointed to make Jesus known, however personally humiliating and costly that may be. And the foot-washing recipient receiving such a disciple will, wonderfully, be receiving Jesus. And a receiver of Jesus is a receiver of the Father above.

Sinner Syvret

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