Devotional - Holy Thursday - Examining The Washing Of The Disciples Feet

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Apr 17, 2014.

  1. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. - John 13: 17 (NIV)

    As we enter into the most important weekend in our faith we need to reflect properly to what this time should mean to us as Christians. It is not about bonnets and feasts. It is not about bunnies and eggs. It is about the cross. It is about the blood of Jesus Christ poured out for all of us. The blood that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The blood that covers us so that we might again have true fellowship with our Creator. The blood that assures us we are written into the Lambs Book of Life. For those who are perishing it is pure folly. The story, like much of the Bible, makes no sense to someone who has not placed their faith in Christ. Resurrection Sunday (not Easter) is the day that we no longer have to seek the living among the dead! It is the day that Jesus Christ defeated death and overcame this world - thus allowing us to do so as well; through Him. The work on the cross is the greatest blessing God can ever give us and if He never gives me anything else - He has already given me everything.

    But we do not get to the empty tomb except through Calvary and we do not get to Calvary except through Gethsemane. You do not get to Resurrection Sunday except through Good Friday and we do not get to Good Friday except through Holy Thursday. On this Holy Thursday let us turn to the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.

    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. - John 13: 1 (NIV)

    It is only appropriate that we start our look into the holiest of weekends by examining the love of Jesus. Not the sappy conditional love the world sells but true Godly love. We see two facets here about the love Christ has for us. The first is that it is selfless. Jesus knew full well that the hour had come. He knew the cross lay directly before Him. The scourging. The crown of thorns. The nail pierced hands and feet. The spear into His side. The sense of abandonment from the Father as He took on the sins of the World. If we knew we had mere hours left before a most gruesome death awaited us - how would we spend it? My sense is we would probably make it to be more about us. A little woe is me. Not Jesus. Sure He would have His moment in the garden when He asked if the cup may pass from Him but it was a moment and it was quickly followed up with - not my will but yours be done. The second thing we notice here about the love of God is that it extends right until the very end. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. He chose the last night He had on earth to spend with those who believed in Him. He used this time to continue to teach them and to love them.

    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 around 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 around him. - John 13: 2-5 (NIV)

    There was no doubt on His part who He belonged to and what the eventual outcome was going to be. Jesus is once again modeling behavior for us. I speak to many Christians who simply do not feel the assurance of their own salvation. What a terrible place to be! Given the receding away from the true Gospel, it is not surprising that many would feel this way because of the very real possibility that they never were saved. If there is any doubt at all, then Resurrection Weekend is the perfect time to turn from our sins and place our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of those sins. It is not enough to believe in Jesus as an historical figure. We must have penitent faith that He was the Son of God who died for our sins on that cross. That He rose on Sunday, defeating death itself for us, and now He is at the right hand of the Father. We see here that Jesus already knew that Judas would betray Him. He already knew the upcoming order of things. He knew He had come from God and was returning to God. This is the same assurance He died for. So that we too would know that we know that we know - that we came from God and when our brief time on earth is over - we will be returning to God - hallelujah! When I think about this assurance I think about the three Hebrew boys about to be thrown into the fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than normal. Yet they understood their assurance:

    Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver usfrom Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” - Daniel 3: 16-18 (NIV)

    The world does its best to make us feel unsure. To make us doubt. The heat on the fiery furnace of lives is turned up seven times hotter than we think we can take it but in the end, we must reflect the same assurance shown here by the three Hebrew Boys. The same assurance Jesus shows when He gets up to wash His disciples feet, mere hours away from His betrayal. That He comes from God and will be returning back to Him. He even will wash the feet of Judas, His betrayer. We look cross eyed at someone who dares to sit in our pew but here Jesus washes the feet of the one who sold Him out. How can He do this? Because He knows where He came from and where He will be returning. So should we.

    He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” - John 13: 6-7 (NIV)

    Perhaps the most teachable moment for us today is this simple statement from our Lord. You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand. How often do we find ourselves in the valley? Uncertain of when it might end or what the Lord is doing? Out of work for a year. Facing bad medical report after bad medical report. A child that hasn't been home in a week. In a spiritual wilderness after a bad experience in church or being hurt by other Christians. It is often at the times when we need the most faith that it can seem so lacking. We live in a microwave society that demands action and believes in the "what have you done for me lately" mindset. Yet what does the Bible teach us about that?

    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55: 8-9 (NIV)

    One truth that is hardest to accept for us is that we are on a need to know basis with the Lord and sometimes we do not need to know. Faith is in trusting who He is; not needing to see what He is doing. Faith is believing in the heart of God over our own desires. We need to divorce ourselves of the false teaching that turns God into a genie in a bottle. A spiritual ATM there to dispense blessings at our whim. It is not about us beloved - it is always about Him! It is not about what He is going to do for me - it is about what He has already done for me on Calvary! So Peter sits there in confused defiance. He simply does not understand what Jesus is trying to do. We too can find ourselves confused and wondering what God is up to. Relax beloved. You do not realize now what He is doing, but later you will understand. That doesn't mean later you will get what you want. It means later you will understand and realize that what God wanted was better all along.

    “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.- John 13: 8-11 (NIV)

    Do you see the dynamic playing out in this brief exchange? This is all about accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives. There are plenty of poor theologies today that reduce and diminish the relationship we have with Jesus to make it somehow more palatable to the sinner. What they fail to realize is they really are only making it more palatable to sin itself. Peter is still trying to dictate the terms of his relationship with Jesus here. He still thinks he knows better. He apparently did not learn from the time he rebuked Jesus about going to the cross and was called Satan for his efforts! He still is walking under his own power, with his own logic, and is still lord of his own life. Jesus is trying to teach Peter here. He is desperately trying to get him to see that unless He surrenders to the will of God he simply has no part in Him at all. Think that sounds harsh? Try these verses then:

    “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” - Luke 6: 46-49 (NIV)

    Whenever I try to make it on my own and fail I can hear these verses echoing in my heart. Why bother calling me Lord if you will not do as I say? Whenever we do as Peter does here we have no part in Jesus. Any response to God that starts as Peter starts here - "no" - is doomed for failure. Likewise here we see that over reactions and displays of excessiveness are equally unwelcome with God. Jesus tells us exactly what we need to do. When we rebel, we have a tendency to do one of the two things exhibited by Peter here. We either say no, or we blow everything way out of proportion and make it all about us. Everyone else was getting their feet washed and Peter asks for his head and hands to be washed too. What is the problem here? If Jesus complies then this lesson is no longer about God but it is about Peter. We see this dynamic play out in church all the time. The people who demand to be taken as more spiritual than others are demanding God wash their hands and head too. So they can be perceived as receiving more from Christ than everyone else. The people who demand to be called titles such as prophet or apostle. Titles they have not earned and do not deserve. All to call attention to themselves and away from God. You can hear them telling us who have had our feet washed that they had their hands and head washed also. It is the same bravado Peter has when he swears he will never forsake Christ and then he goes on to deny Him three times. It is the super spiritual church spirit. Jesus cuts Peter to the quick. Those that have had a bath need only to have their feet washed. Stop making this about you!

    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. - John 13: 12-16 (NIV)

    So we come to the end of the lesson. Jesus has His face towards the cross but wanted to impart one more teaching before the evening hours set in. Before the Last Supper institutes the ordinance of Communion. Before He sets out to the crushing place known as Gethsemane, where He will sweat blood in prayer. Before He is betrayed by one of His own. Before Good Friday. Yet before all of this He had one last lesson for us. It is a lesson of how we are to live out our Christian faith. It is a lesson of humility and servitude. He has set the example for us throughout His ministry and now He drives the point home. This was no minor point for the disciples. The roads in these days were dirt and the footwear were sandals. The task of washing feet was relegated to the servants of the household. We should never think of others as less than ourselves. Our hearts should always be humble and our hands willing to serve. Our hands willing to get dirty in the work of the Lord. Not lofty and super spiritual but menial and burdensome. Jesus wants everyone to have a part in Him and sometimes we have to get on our hands and knees and scrub the dirt of the world off of someone who is seeking Him. Sometimes off of each other as well. That brings us to the key verse; the last verse of this story. For a church that seems to be always chasing blessings it is the key to the lesson. It is the key to blessings.

    Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them - John 13: 17 (NIV)

    Knowing is not enough. Like the verses earlier from Luke, our foundation is on the rock when we put into practice what He has taught us. If we know but do not put what He has taught us into action then we build upon the shifting sands of this world. We are foolish builders who build in vain. Let us take this lesson to heart today. The last lesson before the cross.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - April 17, 2014
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