At the church work day this past week, I did some gardening. Unfortunately, standing in the soil all day had gotten my feet quite dirty. They were dirty enough that I needed to take a shower right away before they would be allowed on the ottoman.
I really wanted to watch an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, so I trudged to the bathtub.
I didn't even THINK of asking her to wash them for me.
In today's lesson that's what Jesus did. He's starting washing the feet of his disciples. This was a job usually reserved for the servants, now done by their leader. Plus this was at a time when sandals and walking in the desert left feet much dirtier than argyle socks, black shoes, and an office complex did.
Why would the Lord of heaven and earth lower himself to such a lowly job? See if you can grasp why...
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Peter was indignant! Why would Jesus, his master, lower himself to such a level? This was his 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' not 'plebian' and 'servant'. Jesus was above doing such work. And he, Peter, was above having his feet washed! So he tried to stop Jesus.
But then, Jesus stopped him:
"Unless I wash you, you have no part in me."
Now Jesus wasn't just talking about having clean feet. Certainly, as they walked the roads earlier that very day, their feet had gotten dusty. Yet Jesus hadn't sent them away from him. He wasn't offended by dirty skin.
He was offended by a dirty soul.
Because as dusty as his big toes may have been, Peter's soul was a mess. Just like any human being it was filled with the ugliness of hatred, lust, pride, and selfishness.
It was so dirty that not even a mother would love it.
And, as God himself describes, not even He could love it. "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time." (Genesis 6)
It's a disturbing thought.
More disturbing is God reacts to such dirty souls! Just like a wife who tells her husband he'll need to clean his feet before setting foot in her living room, so God tells us that we'll need clean souls before setting foot in his heavenly house!
And how do you clean a dirty soul when the soul that tries to clean it is dirty too?
That was Peter's problem! "Stop it! I can do it myself!"
It's a problem that we are often plagued with too. "Lord, Jesus, I don't need your help. I have a neighbor who wears tattoos and is struggling with homosexuality. He needs your help. But not me. I don't need to be cleaned. I'm just fine!"
Listen to the words of Jesus to such an attitude. "Unless I clean you, you will have no part with me."
Of course, when we accept that hard truth, Scripture urges us to turn to Jesus! He is our Lord, our Master, the great One from Above, yet he is not above getting his hands dirty...
...even with blood.
That's why he was on the cross. Because "the blood of Jesus...purifies us from all sin." (John 1:7) Jesus served us in a way even greater than cleansing our feet. He cleaned our souls.
This was way more degrading than getting on your hands and knees to scrub the grime off of our dirty heels. He was horribly mocked, terribly ridiculed, and cruelly treated like the scum of the earth in order to cleanse the grubbiness of sin from our spirit.
Yet he did it. Even though he is the great ruler of the universe deserving of all praise!
What motivated him to get himself dirty in this way?
Yes, washing the feet was a nice thing for Jesus to do. He helped to relax and refresh the disciples for a time. But the washing that Jesus would do on the next day was even greater. It was a thorough cleansing of their souls. It would relax them with the joy of having God's love. It would refresh them with the peace of sins forgiven. It's a cleansing that lasts forever.
This is the same cleansing that God has given you. Through faith in Him, you are clean!
Now...you can pulled up the heavenly ottoman.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive me for selfishly thinking myself above a Savior. Forgive me for comparing myself to others and labeling myself as 'more pure' because of my own actions. Instead, cleanse me. Cleanse me with your Word and the promise of Jesus' purification on the cross. Hold me in faith that I may stand before you with a heart of purity in heaven. Amen.