March 07, 2023
by Pastor Chuck SwindollScriptures: John 13:6–11
As Jesus prepared to wash His disciples' feet, He never said, "Men, I am now going to demonstrate servanthood—watch my humility." No way. That kind of obvious pride was the trademark of the Pharisees.
When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” (John 13:6–11)
As Jesus prepared to wash His disciples' feet, He never said, "Men, I am now going to demonstrate servanthood—watch my humility."
That kind of obvious pride was the trademark of the Pharisees. If you wondered whether they were humble, all you had to do was hang around them awhile. Sooner or later they would announce it . . . which explains why Jesus came down so hard on them (just
look at Matthew 23!).
Unlike those pious frauds, the Messiah slipped away from the table, quietly pulled off His outer tunic, and with towel, pitcher, and pan in hand, He moved quietly from man to man. Now understand, please, that they weren't sitting as they are portrayed
in Leonardo da Vinci's work The Last Supper. All due respect for that genius, but he missed it when he portrayed the biblical scene through Renaissance eyes. They were not sitting in ladder-back, dining-room chairs all on one side of a long
In those days, people reclined at a meal, actually leaning on one elbow as they lay on their side on a small, thin pad or on a larger rug covering the floor. The table was a low, rectangular block of wood upon which the food was placed. And they ate with
their hands, not utensils. This position meant that if your feet were not clean, your neighbor was very much aware of it. It would be hard to ignore a face full of dirty feet.
As Jesus reached Peter, I am sure most of the small talk had dwindled. By now, the men realized their wrong. Guilt had begun to push its way into their hearts. Peter must have drawn his feet up close to him when he said, in effect, "No! Not my feet. Never,
ever, ever will you wash my feet, from now 'til eternity!" This reveals a second observation about having a gentle and humble heart: being a servant includes receiving graciously as well as giving graciously.
Peter wasn't about to be that vulnerable. After all, Jesus was the Master. No way was He going to wash the dirt off Peter's feet! I ask you, is that humility? You know it's not.
Being willing to receive sometimes takes more grace than giving to others. And our reluctance to do so really exposes our pride, doesn't it?