Before Jesus is arrested, after the Last Supper, he washes his disciples’ feet. (John 13: 1-20) It’s strange enough to think of feet washing in our day, but as a kid I always chalked that up to one of those weird anachronisms of the time, and nodded, “yep, drank wine and eat bread, now feet, then betrayal and arrest, yep, that’s the sequence.” It’s what Jesus says to his disciples afterwards that stands out today.
Once again, he says to them, “No servant is above his master. Now that I have set this example for you – I want you to do it as well.”
He wants me to wash people’s feet????
Not quite. He instructs us (again) on humility and compassionate service to others. At this point in the Gospel, he’s beating us over the head with the idea. If we forget everything else he tells us, we need to remember that if he can tend to others’ basic physical and emotional needs, then clearly so must we. We must never think ourselves above any task of compassion and hospitality – because we are no better than he. If he can do it, we must do it too.
We can sense the urgency in his teaching here, and he takes this last evening together to repeat the most essential message:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 3:34)