We're concluding our study of John 13:1-17 today, and we will focus on what Jesus has taught us. There's been so much here -- I know I have learned a lot, and I'm about to run out of bandaids for my toes, too! Let's dive in!
In this passage, everything comes to a standstill when Jesus asks this question: "Do you understand what I have done for you?"
Have you ever been asked a pointed question, and not had a ready answer? You wish there was a quick answer on the tip of your tongue, but instead you look at the questioner like a deer in headlights, and perhaps stammer something . . . all the while you are cringing, because you know it's not the "right" answer, or at least not as full an answer as you need to give.
The significance of this passage is just soaking into my wee brain. It goes way beyond just getting our dirty feet clean of the dust and crud of this world. It goes way beyond being washed, literally and spiritually. It even goes beyond the fact that Jesus meets our needs.
When Jesus comes into our lives, first He loves us. Then He receives us, and then He meets our needs. And many times, people just get stuck there.
They think, that's what this is all about . . . getting my needs met, getting my feet washed, and my sins cleansed.
Whoa, pardner! That's not all.
It's about a personal transformation, of both our character and our way of thinking. It's about becoming something different -- it's about becoming a servant, like Jesus.
"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done
for you." (v 15)
"Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8b)
If our experience in God is simply about ourselves, only about ourselves, then we have missed the boat -- BIG TIME!!! It has sailed away, foghorn blaring, and we aren't even there on the dock. That is just how badly we have missed the boat! While it is true that the greatest human tragedy is for a person to never receive Christ and His mercy, this is also true: it is the second greatest human tragedy for a person to experience Christ's love and grace, but never translate that into service toward others.
Think about it.
There are depths in God, in His grace and peace, that are only found when we serve others. It seems counter-intuitive, and the natural mind can't really understand it.
We know in our hearts that it truly is more blessed, more joyful, more satisfying to give than to receive.
I read this anecdote and thought it fit our study today:
A wealthy American traveler tells the story of how he was visiting a
hospital in southeast Asia. He entered the ward just as a young missionary
nurse was cleaning the sores of a sick, dirty, elderly man who had been
lying in the gutter. The wealthy man said to the nurse, "I wouldn't do that
for a million dollars." She answered him quietly and firmly, "Neither
What is it that changes people into servants? If you asked people on the street, you would get answers all over the place.
Here is the truth in a nutshell: it is the love of Christ in our hearts that makes us feet washers.
Look again at verse 14, and let Jesus tell us:
"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should
wash one another's feet."
What is He saying to us? He means that we need to humble ourselves and get down where the need is, and do something about it. Not look at the need and say that someone else really should do something about it. Ours is a different culture, to be sure. The need is not to wash feet. But there are many practical needs all around us, and if we are to be foot washers, we need to see those needs and do something about them.
Of course, it is much easier to talk about service, or to think about it, or to listen to a sermon about serving others -- then to actually do service for others.
But the blessing, the joy, and the happiness is not found in the thinking, or the talking or hearing about it. We find joy, peace and happiness in actually doing it!
Let's look around us. Is there a need that we can meet? Is there someone near us who needs his or her feet washed? Some practical service that could make that person's burden lighter? Could shine the light of our testimony for Christ into their life?
I pray that God will give us two things: that He will open our eyes to dirty feet, and that He will give us hearts willing to wash them!