Today is Holy Thursday–the day we think about Jesus eating the Lord’s Supper and washing the disciples’ feet.  I am thinking about John 13.   I have included the text of John 13:1-17 (ESV) below, with my thoughts today.

[Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet]
[13:1] Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Jesus loved them to the end.  The bitter end.  He did not love them just because they were people and God loves the whole world.  He loved them because they were his friends.  That is the kind of love I want with Jesus–I want to be his friend, and it is also the kind of love I want with other people who minister with me.

[2] During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,

In the midst of great love, there is betrayal.  “Lord, never let me forget that there are traitors in our midst who do not have the same motives as your followers.”

[3] Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, [4] rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.

I wonder if Jesus had ever done this before?  I can’t answer that question with any solid answer.  This is the only place it is found in Scripture, but my suspicion is that Jesus was always doing things like this–word pictures, actions, and activities where he tried to teach a greater truth.

[5] Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus literally baptized their feet.  The feet–the dirtiest, smelliest part of the body needed to be cleaned.  The part of the body that transported the sinful mind attached to it to various locations where sin would take place.  The feet, which trod upon the broken and the bruised, the neglected and the downcast.  The feet, which kick and churn in violence against spiritual truth.  Jesus baptized that part of the disciples.

[6] He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”

That is a good question.  Simon was uncomfortable with this kind of love.  So am I.  I would rather do for others than have done for me. It is a particular kind of pride and arrogance I think I share with the surly fisherman.

[7] Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”

Nice try, Jesus.  I don’t know if Peter, or I, have ever fully understood, but I want to.

[8] Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” [9] Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

If a little is good, then a lot is better.  Make me clean all over–because it is not just my feet that are sinful and and nasty and dirty.  It is all of me.  If you’re trying to teach a lesson with this basin of water, Lord, then teach me a greater lesson with an ocean of water.

[10] Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”

“The one who has bathed”–who is that?  That is me.  I have bathed–I am a baptized Christ follower and my sins have been forgiven.  Yet I have fresh sins everyday that collect, apparently, below my ankles.  This must symbolize the daily need for cleaning–the spiritual cleaning of confession, repentance, and forgiveness.  It is not the water.  It is the tears.

[11] For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

I so wish Jesus had called out Judas right then.  I would have.  Then I would have told those Sons of Thunder to have taken him out back and beat him silly.  Jesus didn’t do that, though.  That is why he is the savior of the whole world and none of us are.  If I knew ahead of time the kind of things Jesus knew it would ruin me forever and disqualify me forever.  “Thank you Lord, for ignorance.”

[12] When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?

No. I do not understand.  Please tell me.

[13] You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.

I can accept you as teacher, Lord, savior, friend, redeemer ,deliverer, Messiah and so much more.  However, I am really struggling with accepting you as a foot washing servant.

[14] If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

That is gross Jesus.  Have you seen some of the people around me?  Okay, I’ll wash some feet, but give me till this afternoon to prepare a list of people whose feet I cannot wash.  Why those people you ask?  Well, for one thing, the minute I bend down and stoop my head I am sure they will stab me in the back or break my neck, or worse yet, they might ridicule me to those who are around me when I am bent over.  The other key reason is I hate them.

[16] Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

So what your saying is it doesn’t matter if I hate them?  What your saying is that my love for you, my master must be greater than my hate for them?

Let me just say for the record I prefer it much more when you criticize the Pharisees.  I don’t care too much for this meddling your doing with my life.

[17] If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

You have a funny definition of blessed, Jesus.  I’m just saying, but okay.  Help me with this–help me serve other people unconditionally in ways that are meaning for them not because it feels good but because you want me to do it.


Since most people were AWOL on New Year’s Day worship services, I saved my New Year’s challenge sermon for yesterday.  Honestly, it was less a sermon and more a dare.  What I did was to adapt some material I learned in one of my pastor clusters from back in December and used it to help my church grow spiritually.  The material is not unique to me–I am not this smart.  However, I do think it is true and that these are great challenges to growing spiritually in our walk with Jesus.

Challenge 1:  Become a Self Feeder

Too many Christ-followers exist on sermons and small groups as their only spiritual diet.  That is like eating out at a restaurant for every meal.  It makes a person fat and lazy.  By contrast, a person who knows how to cook will never go hungry.  Becoming a self feeder means reading the Bible systematically and praying intentionally.  Stop waiting for the pastor to tie a bib around your metaphorical neck and cram smashed gospel or strained Moses into your mouth as he or she says, “Here comes the choo choo.”

Challenge 2:  Share Your Faith

For us this does not mean aggressive door-to-door campaigns.  We are much more relaxed than that.  But it does mean that we nurture spiritual conversations with people as we “invest and invite.”  All of us know people who we’d love to come to church with us but we just don’t get around to inviting them.  Why?  The only reasonable answer is complacency.

Challenge 3:  Join a Small Group

God calls us to live in community with other people, not as isolated monks.  Even in a church as small as ours it is impossible to connect with people in meaningful relationships by attending worship only.  For people already in small groups, I challenged them to kick up their level of commitment to it by being more involved in the work it takes to make a small group happen.

Challenge 4:  Find a Place to Serve

I’m always talking about service in some way or another.  The spin I put on this challenge is to emphasize that the burden to serve is on the individual and not the church.  People who claim to follow Christ ought to have enough impetus and desire to search, seek, and then initiate the opportunity for service.  The excuse, “No one ever asked me to help,” will simply not cut it with Jesus when you get to heaven and he asks why you never did anything meaningful for others while on earth.

Challenge 5:  Give FinanciallyIt is impossible to be a fully developed follower of Christ and not be a fully developed giver.