Do You Understand What I Have Done to You?

Reading: John 13:1-17, 31b-35 (Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14; Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
So when he had washed their feet, taken his garments, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”

Reflection: After washing their feet, Jesus asks the disciples if they understand what he has done. They probably responded, “You have washed our feet!” Not only that, Jesus says, but much more – I have given you an example! An example, by definition, is something characteristic of its kind – describing a general rule. All the drama around foot washing established a new rule for Jesus’ disciples and an example for them to follow: love one another as I have loved you. Joshua served the great Moses. Elisha poured water on Elijah’s hands. Our Teacher and Lord washed the disciples’ feet. This was a new approach not taught in leadership schools of that time. Leaders from Jesus’ school need to be secure in their identity, comfortable in their vulnerability, accessible, selfless, without a desire for earthly honor. This applies not only to leaders. When it comes to interpersonal relationships, this is the way for every Christian, regardless of who they are. One author has nicely concluded that we should all repeat, as a mantra, that in Jesus’ Kingdom, the space between person and person should first be filled with a towel.

Prayer: In Jesus and his way of life, you have given us an example to follow. Give us strength to strive to live up to the high demands of the Christian life, which often appears as a thorny path and a narrow way. In the grace and power of your Spirit, help us to be a community that is secure in the identity we have in you, and help us not to be afraid to open ourselves up to those who need you. Amen.

Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet’, Ford Madox Brown, 1852–6 | Tate

Posted in Daily devotionals.