With a gamot of reasons, Jesus and his disciples gathered together on the First Day of the Feast of Passover. It was a time for God’s people to come together to remember their Redeemer that delivered them from the death that was brought upon Egypt. Remember the movie prince of Egypt and God’s delivery of His people? Jesus and his disciples were having a dinner party to celebrate this God who over and over again continues to deliver His people.
Perhaps this feast had become merely that, a tradition, something they had to do. Perhaps, it was much like an excuse to get together with loved ones, eat large slabs of meat and keep Hallmark employees employed, much like spiritually significant Holidays can be for us. And for many, maybe it was an authentic time to sacrifice to God and remember His goodness for His people.
Jesus apparently didn’t have his own house to host this feast, so earlier that day, he sent some of his disciples into town to meet the “man with the glass of water”. They were to follow that man and ask him to use the guest room of his house to celebrate this Passover. (It was Jewish custom at this time to open any extra room you may have had to foreigners passing through to celebrate the Passover.) So as creepy as this request sounds to us, it was customary to them.
So here they were gathered together in some thirsty guy’s extra room and the Bible says that Jesus brought with him much foreknowledge. Jesus was aware of a few things. Jesus knew of Judas and his betrayal. He knew all power had been given to Him, that he came from God and was returning to God. And He knew that the time had come for Him to leave the world and go to the Father. So Jesus knew that this was to be what we call His Last Supper. If you knew you were eating your last meal with your closest people, what would you do ?Knowing it was His last night, look at what Jesus did! The Bible says:
Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
What? Had they only gotten a part, a section, or a piece of his love up to this point? Jesus has been hanging with them, teaching them, exhorting them, fishing with them, eating with them, partying with them, doing miracles alongside them, wrestling with them, and praying with and for them. What else was yet to be shown?
Here is how Jesus showed the full extent of his love
So He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, He poured water into his basin and began to wash his disciple’s feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
When I read this, I have to be honest, I thought-what did that show? So I sat on it for a few days and then looked at who “His own” were. He had His own…
- He had His own arguers: Now keep in mind that in Jewish tradition, it was customary and expected that as people arrived at a feast, the lowest slave would wash the guests feet as they arrived. Because they were in some random guy’s guest room, there was no lowest slave, so someone was going to have to take the job. But no one did. Why? Because they were too busy trying to be the best to be the lowest. Luke 22:24 describes them: Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest. And these men who were arguing over who was the best in God’s economy were “Jesus own.”.
- He had His own Betrayer: Judas, was present, and his mind had to be on his betrayal of Jesus. This man had betrayed His Lord in exchange for the amount of the measly price of the lowest slave (hmmm interesting). In a moment, he traded His Lord at a horrible exchange rate! Judas was “Jesus’ own.”
- He had His own Big Talker: When Jesus came around to wash Peter’s feet, Pete so boldly declared “Lord and Teacher, you shall never wash my feet!” Making this statement was an effort to say that Jesus was much too great and he, Peter, not nearly great enough. What a humble and spiritual statement or so it made Peter seem. Here was a man who wanted to appear humble, yet was not humble enough to jump in and be the lowest slave! And, if Jesus were Teacher, why wasn’t Peter being teachable? If Jesus were Lord, why wasn’t Peter submitting? Here was a man who proclaimed with his mouth, but failed to back it up with his actions. And he was “Jesus’ own.”
This is just a slice of the audience that Jesus called His own. I wonder how much we are like them and they like us:
- Are we like these arguers? Well, perhaps not all of us are arguing, but definetly at the forefront of many of our minds is how can we be seen as great? We want people to see us as spiritual giants, as leader, as servant, as oh wiseone, as do gooder, as one who “gets its”, as close to Jesus, as tight with the Big Man upstairs or at least tight with a pastor. We want to be seen as one with a great reputation, a person who loves others, someone spiritually disciplined, active in the church, a Christ follower who is surrounded by other important Christ followers. Christians are constantly trying to be found on the top of the spiritual pecking order that we, ourselves, make up. Very few of us would have walked into that room, or any room for that matter, to make ourselves the lowest slave, unless of course we knew for certain that we will receive credit, kudos and applause for being such a “humble, loving, great servant.” How similar I find myself to those of his own, who were, even on Christ’s last night, still trying to be found as great, respected and important. And perhaps you do too.
- Are we like Judas, willing to betray Jesus on a dime? And maybe, we wouldn’t fully betray our Lord and turn our back on Him for good, as Judas did. But how many of us, today even for a moment, we’re willing to exchange our Lord to partake in some small reward? In a moment, we will exchange our Lord to partake of juicy gossip. In a moment, we will exchange our Lord to partake in pleasure. We will exchange Him for a rush, for a pat on the back, for a laugh, even for mere man’s acceptance. Ashamedly, as I look at my own life, it is obvious that I am constantly willing to exchange my Lord for what I, in a moment, want. Are you?
- Are we like Peter wanting to look good yet so unwilling to do as Jesus says? And we like Peter, are so willing to proclaim Jesus as Teacher, yet at times, we prove to be so unteachable. We, like Peter, are so willing to voice Him as our Lord, yet we so often fail to submit to our Lord’s voice. Yes, we proclaim He is our Savior, yet we fail to own up to what we need saving from. Yes, we proclaim Him to be our Guide, yet we fail to even seek Him for guidance. Yes, we proclaim Him to be our Hope, yet we keep hoping in so many other things. As is Peter, so are we.
Yet these were the very people He called His own. And we are too.
Notice, something incredible occurs… He washed all of their feet. Jesus gets very personal with His own. The Bible doesn’t say that he bowed down and washed one of the disciples feet as some kind of example, for mere lesson. It doesn’t say that he washed the dirtiest or the cleanest. He didn’t wash his longest standing disciple, his busiest servant, or his greatest prayer warrior. He washed all of his own’s feet, however dirty, however clean, however faithful, however not- with whatever issues they brought to the table. He bowed down and washed every single one of them, the ones who were arguing, he washed Judas and he washed Peter. Christ’s love is obviously not based on behavior. His love doesn’t come with biases. His love holds no conditions. It is not dependent on ours. As He washed the betrayer and the faithful alike, so He does for us. He calls us his own and He bows down and loves each one of us personally to the fullest extent.
My dirt…His body….My muck…His blood. I would imagine that their dirt became very personal.
When Jesus bowed before each of them and scrubbed their ten little piggy toes, they had to have been reminded of the gunk that had accumulated in the basin. Thinking “He bowed down and washed my feet. He washed my dirt and he didn’t just wash it, “He became the dirt.” It was my grime, my ugliness, my dysfunction, my wrongs. The same personal love that was willing to sacrifice by becoming the lowest slave the night of the footwashing, was the same personal love that was willing to sacrifice by taking on my dirt on the cross.It wasn’t just Pilate who Christ died for. It wasn’t only for the Jews. It wasn’t just for the crooks on the crosses next to him. It wasn’t merely for the bad guys of the world. It wasn’t just for the Pharisees. He didn’t take on the sins of only those that flogged his back or those that fought over his clothes or for only those that spat and mocked him. It was for me. It is a very personal redemption for my very personal dirt.
I will end with a quote from Spurgeon: “The Lord Jesus loves his people so much, that everyday he is still doing for them much that is analagous to washing their soiled feet. Their poorest actions he accepts; their deepest sorrow he feels; their slenderest wish he hears; and their every transgression he forgives.”
As you look back this Maundy Thursday and see Jesus showing the full extent of His love to His own, may you be reminded that as dirty as your feet have become on this walk of yours, you are also His.