I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you John 13:15 (NIV)
They arrived grumpy and restless, arguing about who would sit where and jostling each other at the table. Like a group of stubborn bickering boys they were – certainly not the best of attitudes going into the Pesach.
He, on the other hand, kept His peace. I wondered what He was thinking. He seemed to be distracted, concerned – burdened by something more than His squabbling disciples.
The strife continued while the meal was being served. Then suddenly He stood up – the action dramatically catching everyone by surprise. Their eyes followed Him as He stripped off His outer clothes, wrapped a towel around His midriff and went to collect water and a basin. You could have heard a pin drop.
Slowly and deliberately He began to wash Thomas’ feet. Thomas looked distinctly uncomfortable, his face flushed and contrite. The tense silence continued as He humbly and lovingly washed the feet of each of the disciples. They were flabbergasted – completely caught off guard. Embarrassment hovered in the air. In accordance with protocol they should have washed His feet when they first arrived for the meal, and now He was washing theirs.
Peter had gathered his wits by the time He got to him. Pulling away he was noticeably struggling for the right words before he blustered, “You’ll never wash my feet.” Locking eyes with Peter He replied, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be a part of what I’m doing.” Flummoxed by the thought of being disowned, Peter blurted out, “Then wash all of me!” The corners of His mouth crinkled up slightly as He said, “You bathed this morning. You only need your feet washed. This isn’t about being clean.”
When He finished washing their feet He began putting on His clothes while asking, “Do you get it?” Sitting down He continued, “I’m pointing out what should be clear. You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ for that is what I am. Now take your lead from me and wash each other’s feet. Do as I have done.”
I think they got it. Despite the awkwardness of the moment they saw what He wanted them to see . . . that He’d been modelling how actions are more important than words. A new appreciation for one another was surfacing as they passed the matzot from hand to hand. For an instant they seemed to be mulling it over … maybe realizing that if we’re to participate in His life and truly be His friends, it’s about more than washing the dust and grime off someone’s feet, it’s about serving one another as He serves us.
[cf. Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-22; John 13:1-17]