The last time they ate a meal together before he went to the cross, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. More than unexpected or unusual, this act of service turned on its head the established order: servants washed their masters’ feet; the master did not wash the servants’. Jesus did this to impress upon his disciples (then and now) that as he did for them they were to do for others.
Only recently did a very significant, yet textually unremarked-upon, detail jump out at me: Jesus washed Judas’s feet, too. And the scripture says that Jesus already knew it was Judas who would betray him.
Jesus washed the stinking, filthy feet of the man who would send him to his undeserved death just a few hours hence.
I don’t care to serve anyone who doesn’t treat me properly, or whom I feel is less deserving of respect than I am. Right now signs are pointing to the possibility that I will soon find myself under the management of someone who I find prideful and inexperienced.
The idea of serving under this person rankles.
Why am I so bothered? Frankly, it’s because I think I’m better. I don’t think I should have to suffer the direction and evaluation of someone I consider beneath me.
(Yeah, I’m still thoroughly vile inside, in case you might have been thinking otherwise.)
It crossed my mind to walk away from the situation, but God shook his head. “I want you to serve there. Humble yourself. Submit to the authority I put over you.”
Grumble, snarl, growl.
I am to figuratively wash the feet of someone who I think ought to be washing mine.
Because Jesus did it for me. His forgiveness of me prefigured—came before—the wrong I did, which he already knew I was going to do. He washed my stinking feet.
I owe him every humble obedience. Even to “forgive” in advance.
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Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” – Mark 14:18
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With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Amazon.com. Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.