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Archive for June 24th, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 6.49.38 AMOur family has a dirty little secret …

We don’t often take about this in public, and it causes great eye-rolling and disgust among our family …

It is the foot-licking of Duke, our wonder dog.

It doesn’t matter if we have just come from the shower, or from a day of hot and sweaty work in the garden, he wants to clean our heals, soles and toes (and everything in between).

His eagerness, insistence and inappropriateness about cleaning our feet makes me think of the passage about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples (John 13:1-17).

It all took place in the midst of the passover meal. Jesus was surrounded by all of his disciples. Though Judas was still with the group, the passage says that the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus” (v.2).

So, right in the middle of the meal, Jesus gets up and prepares himself, the water and towel.

Now, foot washing was a normative thing as it was hot, dusty and everyone wore sandals. Washing feet was normally done by a servant, or one who was viewed as lower in society (women, children). It was completely normative for good hygiene and for refreshment.

But …

The normal time for foot washing to be done would have been when people first came in from outside, not in the middle of the meal. Why did Jesus insist on washing their feet, when the meal was already underway? Wouldn’t we presume that their feet were already clean?

The passage says he approached Simon Peter, who asked, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (v. 6)

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (v. 7)

-a hint that this act has more meaning than just clean feet.

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” (v. 8)

-Peter understood that a teacher would never wash the feet of his followers. There was a certain way things ought to be done, and this was not it.

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

-now we are being made aware of why this act must be done.

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (v. 9)

-he’s looking for a shower.

 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean …” (v. 10)

-here is where Jesus indicates that the foot washing has nothing to do with a physical cleansing. Jesus is reminding Peter that what needs cleansing most is that which is most dirty. It is our sin, the condition of all humankind, which soils us most … it is sin which we all need cleansing from, and it is only the Master who can cleanse that sin … we cannot do it ourselves.

“… though not every one of you. For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.” (v. 10-11)

-this was about Judas, for he had already struck the deal … his heart was moving in another direction. Judas had made the decision to choose filth over cleanliness, and that choice would be what would keep him from experiencing the cleansing that Jesus came to offer.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (v. 12-14)

-Clearly asking the disciple if they understood what he did, in washing their feet, was a redundant question, as they were clueless …

aren’t we all clueless when we don’t really want to know that is going on? Jesus had been alluding to ‘when I am gone’ for quite some time, yet there seemed to ignore these statements. I wonder if their selective understanding was simply that common human practise of doing the ostrich … burying our head in the sand when we don’t want to hear what is being said.

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (v. 15-17)

-the meat and potatoes of this story are now being served! His act of humility, of service, is a modelling of what he expects of them, for each other. As the human form of the new covenant, he exemplifies what it is to be, not just a master (for that is what he is), but a servant master … a far cry from the religious leaders of that day.

Sin is the dirty little secret we all share in common. Jesus is the only one who can make us clean from our sin, and, once washed, he requires us to follow his example of service to others.

 

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