May 16, 2017
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 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.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
It is a small circle of people. Jesus has a method here. He is going one by one—person to person—washing their feet. What is not computing for Peter here? Does he have “feet” issues? Does he think his feet don’t stink? It doesn’t occur to Peter that he is just like everyone else in the circle. He thinks he is somehow different from the rest.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
It’s not so much are YOU going to wash my feet, but are you going to wash MY feet? Jesus has long been preparing the disciples for passion—his and theirs. The disciples are preparing for position. In the understatement of the first century, Jesus responds, “You do not realize what I am doing but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
It is remniscient of an earlier occasion where in response to Jesus predicting his passion Peter rebukes him, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” Remember Jesus stunning response: “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23-24)
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” In case you weren’t convinced of Peter’s strategy, check out his response.
“Then Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well!” Peter is desperate to be distinguished from his peers. He will be distinguished as the one Jesus didn’t wash or the one Jesus really washed. He needs to stand out, to rise above, to be set apart and distinct from the rest.
Our pride craves more and more status, more and more recognition, more and more accolades. We need to be better, stronger, more important, and we need others to know it. Peter had been there, done that and he had the t-shirt, “Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite.”
This seeking after status distinction is at the heart of jealousy and envy. It fuels the constant comparing of ourselves with others. Bottom line: if the unmerited love of God is not enough for us it’s a sign that we don’t know the unmerited love of God.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who confers upon us the only status that matters: the love of God. Take us to the place in our in most person where our identity and security comes from you alone. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
- How do you try to distinguish yourself from others? Why?
- Is your core identity anchored in the love of God for you or are you still building another system of self worth?
- When will the unmerited love of God be enough for you? What would need to change for this to be the case?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.