Image from Benno Oosterom – Pixabay.com
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.
After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
John 13:3-5 (NKJ)
In recent weeks we’ve been looking at life metaphors. One of mine is that life is a journey. I believe most of you would agree with me that we are all on a journey of some kind—a journey towards our dreams and aspirations, towards God’s purpose for our lives and ultimately towards our eternal destiny.
In biblical times it was the custom for hosts to wash the dust and grime from the feet of their guests. It was an act of hospitality but also seen as an act of servitude. To wash someone else’s feet requires humility, as demonstrated by Jesus when he laid aside his garments to wash the feet of his disciples.
In Luke 7:36-47 we read an account of a woman filled with deep remorse over her past sins. It would seem she was convinced Jesus was the expected Saviour sent by God to save, i.e. deliver people from the guilt, stain and shame of sin (Matthew 1:21). She makes her heartfelt plea for forgiveness… for release from her transgressions, by anointing and washing the feet of Jesus.
I find it ironic that a Pharisee, to whom observance of the rites of washing represented an important religious tradition, would invite Jesus to dinner, insult him by not offering the common courtesies of a host, yet when this woman anoints Jesus’ feet and washes them with her tears, he is inwardly critical of Jesus, he is inwardly dismissive and despising of this woman.
Here is a man who needs salvation. Here is a man, I am sure, would have heard about the miraculous works of Jesus. Did he only invite Jesus to dinner so he could look good in front of his friends? Did he not recognise Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah? Did he not realise that he himself was as much a sinner as the prostitute, who’d gate-crashed his dinner party, who lay prostrate at his guest’s feet, weeping and seeking forgiveness?
We gain further insight into this man’s heart after Jesus shares the story of two debtors (Matthew 26:39-47). In a nutshell, because Simon saw little need for forgiveness from Jesus, his love and respect for his invited guest was measured accordingly. In fact, Simon even doubted the authenticity of Christ’s pedigree: “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”
Simon was perhaps only curious about Jesus, or wanted the kudos of being able to say that Christ, a celebrity, had dined at his house. Although he had little love and respect for Jesus, he was willing to use the Lord for his own purposes.
When you do not respect the one who died for you, it is easy to take his life, presence and ability to bless you for granted. It is easy for you to care only about what he can do for you, instead of falling down on your knees in remorse, repentance, gratitude and worship for all he has done for you. It is easy to forget that Christ sacrificed his life for us, even though, as *John Newton observed, we were an undeserving wretch.
The only reason we are now worthy, the only reason we have been exalted to the position of God’s heirs and joint-heir with Christ… to a position of kings and priests in the Kingdom of the only Potentate (1 Timothy 6:15), is because Jesus willingly subjected himself to the cruellest death imaginable, so that I, so that you, so that whosoever wants to, can be saved, healed, delivered and restored.
As followers of and visitors to my blog, I would like to extend to you this biblical hospitality. Figuratively, I would like to wash the dirt, dust and grime from your feet as you pause to rest, before continuing on your journey.
I pray God will use the words I write to wash away the dirt from dashed hopes and dreams, defeat, despair and bitter disappointment. I believe God will anoint my words and use them to remove the dust of self-sufficiency or self-pity. And, I am trusting that God will remove the grime of pride (if and when applicable), whether it be pride of life, status or accomplishment. I pray he will do this both in your lives and in mine. Will you allow Him to do so?
Make no mistake, we all need the water of God’s Word to continually cleanse us, or quench our thirst. We all need the refreshment of his presence, his words of comfort, encouragement and peace. So my invite goes out to you all. Purpose-driven believers and dream-achievers, come and accept my hospitality. Come, and let me wash your feet, let me serve you with the precious love of Jesus.
*Author of hymn Amazing Grace
And, whilst you’re here, I take this opportunity to wish all my followers and visitors a Happy Easter!