A legacy of perfect love
Reading John 13: 1-15 Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off His outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!’ Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, thou not all of you.’ For He knew who was to betray him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’ Reflection Jesus loved his disciples to the end and desired that they would know the depth of His love. As the chosen Son of God, He was returning to the Father who had put all things into his hands; as He returned to his Father it was His desire to leave them a legacy of perfect love on which they could model their lives. He chose, foot washing, an action with which they were familiar; the Jews washed before they ate. Many people travelled long distances on foot each day as they attended to their business. They cleansed their feet of dust as they entered their homes but this action of Jesus was different. He assumes the role of servant as He de-robes of his outer garment and humbly washes the feet of His friends; this is a tangible outer expression of his love for them; in so doing, He set an example for all his followers for time immemorial. He responds to Peter’s resistance by telling him that if he does not allow himself to be washed by his Lord and Teacher, he can have no share of him; Peter quickly recognises his lack of insight into the mystery before him and asks to be cleansed by his Lord and Master. He wishes to be fully immersed into the heart and life of his God and cleansed of all iniquity. Jesus reassures him that he is clean but acknowledges that one of their number carries the stain of sin on his soul; this person would betray him.
Jesus encourages all of his followers to be humble servants of each other. He who was Lord and Teacher has done a great act of love for his beloved disciples; if we are to be his disciples we must do the same. This challenges me to minister with gentleness and patience to all entrusted to my care especially all are not able to express their own needs.
Prayer Gracious God, I ask you to cleanse my heart of all sin during this holy season of Lent. May I humbly learn of you who were meek and humble or heart; may I minister to your people with gentleness and love, knowing that it is you whom I serve, my Lord and Teacher. Amen.