Today we are looking at John chapter 13 and one of the most powerful pictures of the heart and attitude of God. This chapter opens with Jesus washing the disciples feet. I love the way that the New International Version reads…
John 13:1 (NIV84) It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
It’s that phrase at the end that always jumps out at me… “he now showed them the full extent of his love.” What was it that Jesus did to demonstrate the extent of the love that he had for his disciples? He washed their feet. If it weren’t enough that the creator of everything came to earth in human form, lived a sinless life, and is preparing to die for our well-being; now he is stooping to wash the dirty feet of those who follow him.
Washing feet was a common practice in the time of Jesus. When a guest came to a home, the master of the house would have the lowest of his servants wash the feet of the guest. If there were several guests, then the servant would wash all of their feet. It was a gesture of both welcome and honor but one that would not be done by the master of the house, but rather the lowest ranking servant.
I have no doubt that the irony here does not escape you. Here is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings washing feet. It is this reality that causes Peter to object. Peter believes in Jesus. He believes him to be the Messiah, the Savior of Israel and as such Peter does not want Jesus reduced to washing feet. All of these men who sit in a line watching Jesus kneel before the first of them and begin proceeding down the line have some sense of awkwardness as their teacher, their leader, their Lord begins to wash their dirty feet. It must have been a very awkward and yet moving moment as they begin to see the Kingdom of God different than they thought it to be.
Now all of this is truly amazing to me. However, there is another thing going on that is even more amazing. Remember that phrase in the NIV, “he showed them the full extent of his love?” You may be tempted to think that Jesus washing their feet, in the servant’s role, sums that up but there’s something more. Have you seen it yet? There’s a truth here of such magnitude, which opens up a treasure of knowledge so rich that I suspect you could spend a whole lifetime examining it and never exhaust all that it would teach you. Are you ready for it?
Ok, here we go. You are sitting across the room watching this scene unfold. Jesus has the men all sit on a bench. His back is to you and the men are facing you. Jesus is moving from the first to the last from left to right. Someone in the twelve is first and someone is last. Jesus washes the first ones feet and starts to move to the next one. You glance down the line and examine the expressions on each of their faces. Your eyes move from face to face. Remember what you know that they do not…. Did you see it?
Somewhere in that line is Judas.
Jesus knows that he will be betrayed unto death by this man, and yet… he still washes his feet.
That’s the full extent of Jesus’ love for mankind. While our sin made us vile, Jesus still loved us.
Romans 5:8 (ESV) …but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus loves you and I enough that even when we are far from what God requires, his love still reaches to us. Even in our betrayal of him, he still loves us. Do you still think you can run away far enough from God that He won’t love you. You can’t! The extent of his love for you is just too great!