It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel round his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’ For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13: 1-17
The moving and disturbing account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet announces the radical and political dimension of this Passover. This is God’s manifesto to the Christian community. We, collectively and individually, are to live in a way that declares what God is like. As we serve each other and the world, we do so because Jesus showed us how. We serve each other because the other is God’s child, God’s gift to us. God does not call us to be a holy and comfortable church group, safe within the walls of our church buildings. God calls us out into the world as a foot-washing community. The disciples didn’t like it much, it certainly unsettled them. Can we be unsettled and shaken enough from our pre-occupations with ‘churchy’ matters to show that we are a people called to serve others for the sake of the kingdom? Or will we too betray Jesus, run away, deny him?
This night is a night of darkness, of waiting, of remembering.
We ask your forgiveness, loving God, for all the times we have failed to serve others;
for the times we have betrayed you, denied you and left you……
Give us the strength we need to be unsettled and shaken from old habits
for the sake of your kingdom.
Lis Mullen is the Moderator of the Northern Synod
Sign up here to receive these Devotions every day by email