Message: This morning I saw something in John 13 a little differently than I had ever seen before when I read about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. I feel like it’s an act that we struggle to understand clearly because it’s not part of our regular culture. The only thing I can even partially relate it to is going camping and how important it is to take off your shoes and clean up a bit before going into the tent where you’ll be sleeping because you don’t want to track in all of the mud, dirt and debris where you’ll be sleeping. It’s something you have to be very careful and conscious about so even at night when you’re sleeping and you have to get up to use the bathroom you have to do all of that again even in the middle of the night just for a quick trip outside to pee so you don’t bring all of the outside dirt into your tent. This was a practical and relatable comparison for them because this was how they had to live their regular lives in order to keep their dwelling places clean. They didn’t have cleanly paved roads and sidewalks, or clean landscaping so every time they stepped out of their homes they walked through “it”. The “it” was everything from dirt and mud to horse and donkey poop.
As I was reading chapter 13, I paused on the conversation that Jesus had with Peter. Peter was completely objected to Jesus washing his feet. He went as far as to say “you will NEVER wash my feet- EVER!” I thought about the intimacy of this act and how uncomfortable it was. This was vulnerable to them, and when Jesus did this he laid aside his Rabbi robe of dignity and respect, and put a towel around his waste like a servant. I think we all understand the significance of the servant, but not until today did I ever really understand WHY the servant role was so important to this application here until I caught verses 10 and 11. After Peter objected to Jesus washing his feet and Jesus told him that without it he could have no part in him, Peter swung the pendulum completely in the opposite direction and told Jesus, wash EVERYthing! Not just my feet, but my hands and my head too! In verse 10 Jesus said “one who has bathed doesn’t need to wash anything except for his feet, but he is completely clean. Then he said “you are clean but not ALL of you. Verse 11 clarifies that here he was referring to them all as a whole that are clean, and that Judas was the part of them that was not clean because Jesus knew he was about to betray him. After this statement something deeper clicked as I realized that the act of washing each other’s feet was not JUST an act of servanthood and humility. It is literally the act of helping each other wash each other in the word to remove all of the sin and the junk that wants to attach to us as we walk through life. This is something we have to stay on top of regularly so we don’t track all of that junk into our dwelling places, neither our personal dwelling places (out tents) or our family dwelling places but also the dwelling place of our spiritual families. Cleaning up life and sin issues is very vulnerable and uncomfortable, and it takes a lot of humility to even have the right to be able to do this with each other. Without that servant heart and humility we will not be able to do this effectively and Jesus was the ultimate example of this.
Command: Serve each other by washing each other’s unclean parts in the word of God. This takes an incredible amount of vulnerability and humility to help each other remove the debris that tries to stay with us as we walk through the issues of life. When we’re intimate with each other in this way we wash away attitudes, mindsets, offenses and sin issues with the word applied in a gentle but very deliberate way. We would not come in aggressively and knock people over and begin to scrub them with the towel. I also see a relation to the scripture In Ephesians 5:26 where the husband is told to sanctify his wife by washing her with the “water of the word”. We NEED the word of God as the essential part of the cleansing. We can NOT council or help people without the word used appropriately and in proper context and application!! Imagine coming in with a dry towel and trying to dry exfoliate someone! Not only would it not fully wash clean but it would severely irritate the skin.
Promise: If we follow the example of Jesus and HUMBLY wash each other clean with the water of the WORD we not only cleanse them but we cleanse ourselves as a whole.
Warning: If we are not humble we will not cleanse, but we will irritate instead. If we do not use the water of the word to cleanse we can and will injure people!
Application: This really sunk in for me at a deeper level today and I see myself on both sides of this. I have a responsibility to wash my unclean parts and not drag around the sin and junk I walk through. This is not only a daily part of life, but a constant throughout the day maintenance. I am also accountable to and for those I am in relationship with. I need to be vulnerable and humble enough to allow others to cleanse me with the word of God as I also use the word of God to wash others. I can’t wash anyone without the word of God and this can’t be done without humility.