Maundy Thursday is set aside to reflect on these things. I open myself up to the pain of it all and ruthlessly examine asking God to bring into the light what needs to die in my life. So much needs to have the light shine on it. I am full of pride, selfishness, and all that is shameful. I want all of it cleaned. I want to jump in the tub and have it all wiped away. I want this so I can love the way he loves, serve the way he serves. I want to be clean.
Many years ago I saw a metal sculpture. It depicted the disciple Peter refusing to have his feet washed by Jesus. The one he respectfully and honestly called Teacher, Master, knelt before him like a servant. The artist powerfully portrayed the moment. I was deeply impacted. It stuck with me the whole day and as I contemplated the scene later I was overwhelmed and broken by it.
The Son of God knelt before a fisherman and washed his feet.
The Prince of Peace humbled himself like a servant and washed the feet of an ordinary man.
The Lion of Judah got on the floor and gently wiped the dust from a humans feet.
The one who is impure draws back.
How can the one who is Holy get on the floor and preform the act of a servant?
How can a Prince preform the task of one who is the lowest?
How can he who is the most powerful humble himself and behave as one who is meek and powerless?
Jesus tells Peter “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” To which Peter basically replies “then throw me in a tub and don’t miss a spot!”
Peter still doesn’t grasp the plan, he doesn’t understand. What he does understand is that he has never known any one like Jesus. He does know that life with Jesus is better than life without him. What he hears is that if he doesn’t allow Jesus to preform this humble act, he will be cut off and have no part. That is not an option for Peter. He doesn’t want just a little bit. Peter is all in. Don’t just clean part of me Lord, clean all of me!!
Does Peter know it is not just his feet that are dirty? Is that why he says “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Does he know of his need for forgiveness? Does he have a moment of clarity and realize how far he falls from hitting the mark? Is that why he asks that his hands and head be included?
John 13 records these events. This portion of the first verse hung onto me today “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Jesus then goes on to share communion with his followers, washes their feet and says “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
It isn’t optional. I have been commanded to love others the way Jesus loves them. I have been commanded to humble myself and serve others. I have been called to serve as the lowest. To consider others as better than myself. I am to regularly participate in communion to remember what Christ sacrificed. I am to examine myself honestly and deeply.
I am so limited, so finite that I barely grasp the fullness of it. The sliver of truth that I manage to catch and the few moments I can hang onto it leave me completely laid bare.
I am like Peter, horrified that Jesus would humble himself and sacrifice himself, for a rebellious people, for the likes of me. Then realizing how much I need to be part of what Christ offers and has planned. I feel like Peter. I want to yell “Not just my feet. Throw me in the tub, don’t miss a spot!” I felt it so strongly recently when Craig and I were invited to a group. People were more hesitant to share their struggles, we could both feel it. It took everything in me to keep my bottom in my chair. I had this enormous desire to jump up, and rudely interrupt the meeting to scream “Me too!!! I fall short too! I am a mess!” I felt like telling everyone there that Craig and I are unworthy, we are no different. We don’t measure up. We are desperately dependent on God’s grace too! The playing field is equal, we are all in need of redemption. We are works in progress. Just because we work as Pastor’s doesn’t mean we have it all together. God chooses the foolish in this world to shame the wise. That is us! Craig and I, we are part of the chosen foolish.
But hope stirs, I know I don’t need to jump in the tub. I know I just need my feet washed now and then. I know because I know the rest of the story. I know this because Sunday is coming!!