Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jesus Washes the Feet of the Apostles

Today I read John 13, which is where Jesus washes the feet of the Apostles. John is the only one to mention that it even happened which causes me to wonder, what about washing the feet is meant for church members? I don't mean that there is something mystical that only church members can understand, but John wrote to those who were Christians or members of the church, the other 3 writers of the Gospel did not, therefore it must have something to do with being a member of the church, but I sure do not know what.

John actually spends several chapters talking about the last supper whereas most of the other writers mention it happened and that the sacrament was instituted but that is all they talk about. I am glad John felt the need to write more and give us more detail about what Jesus did with His Apostles that night, His last night of instruction to them before He died.

As I stated above, Jesus took the time to wash His Apostle's feet before they ate the feast of the passover. From John's record none of the Apostles had anything to say about it except for Peter who declared that Jesus did not need to wash his feet. Jesus replied that unless He washed Peter's feet, then Peter had no part in being with Him. Peter, impulsive as always, stated that Jesus should then not just wash his feet only, but his hands and his head. The JST version of Jesus' answer shows that Peter had already prepared himself well for dinner. Jesus states that He who has washed his hands and head has only to wash his feet to be clean.

I personally believe Jesus did this to prove a point to His Apostles. They considered Him to be the greatest among them, and indeed He tells them in this chapter that He is the Messiah. And yet He gets down on the ground and washes their feet, which in a world without paved roads and sandals were one of, if not the most, dirty parts of the human body. What a humbling thing to do. In Jerusalem at this time period, the rich and wealthy had servants who would wash their feet for them. This could have been nothing more than Jesus' object lesson to follow up on what He had taught them earlier, that he who would be the greatest among them, must be the servants of all.

This chapter also contains the phrase that was turned into one of my favorite hymns. Jesus tells His Apostles that they should love one another and that by this shall men know they are His disciples. I have wondered if in the past these men did not get along the best and that is why Jesus gave this counsel. Or perhaps the term one another was relative and Jesus was telling them to have charity towards all men. Perhaps the men had trouble with being kind to all that came their way. Certainly there are stories in the Gospels where the Apostles are less than courteous to some people. I have often wondered what causes people to be less than nice, civil and professional to others? Is it pride, that one feels they are above the rest of the people and therefore not obligated to be nice? I really don't know but I know that we need more people to be nice and friendly in this day and age. Think how much nicer the world would be if everyone was nice and polite to everyone else? What would that be like?

This is also the chapter where Jesus reveals Judas Iscariot as the one to betray Him. Jesus tells John that the one to whom He gives the sop, or a piece of food, is the one that will betray Him and He then proceeds to give it to Judas. I remember a few years back that there was a "gospel of Judas" that was found and it rocked the faith of some. I remember talking about it with one of my brothers and my father. Even then I did not believe it to be genuine because it had claimed that Jesus told Judas to betray Him. I do not believe that because all of the modern Apostles and even Jesus Himself declare Judas to be a son of perdition and that it were better that he had never been born. He was NOT instructed to betray the Son of God. It was a willful and deliberate rebellion on the part of Judas. Despite knowing it was coming, it must have hurt Jesus to know one of the men who had been with Him daily for 3 years would betray Him like that. I can't even imagine what that must have been like. No wonder Jesus' heart was heavy with all that was expected of Him. But He did not falter and He did not shy away from it as we shall see in the coming days. Until tomorrow.

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