More than any disciple, I identify with Peter.
I resonate with his fluctuations between displaying great faith and disappointing Jesus. I sympathize with his willingness and eagerness to do great things for the kingdom, but his inability to properly execute on those desires.
And I especially understand what was running through Peter’s head at the Last Supper. Jesus unexpectedly left His meal and began washing the feet of the disciples, displaying an unthinkable humility. All the other disciples were either too shocked to say anything or just accepted it.
Peter couldn’t accept that Jesus would wash his feet. He was but a lowly man; Jesus was the Son of God. “You shall never wash my feet,” Peter told Jesus in John 13:8. Peter felt uncomfortable that his Lord would stoop to scrub his grimy toes.
Jesus replied: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
Jesus’ upcoming sacrifice would wash away the grime of sin that led to eternal death. When we accept the salvation that comes from His display of humility (dying a humiliating death for our sins; crouching on the floor to wash our feet), we are washed and made new in the eyes of God.
The old is gone. The stain of our sins is no more. We’re transformed into a new creation thanks to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The disciples’ feet would get dirty again, likely as soon as they left dinner. But thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, their souls (and ours) would never need cleaning again.
While I admire Peter’s humility, I think it’s important to acknowledge that we need our feet washed. Those who decline Jesus’ footbath are turning away the greatest blessing ever: eternal life.
Peter, recognizing the significance of the moment, changed his stance: “Then Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Peter went from resisting Jesus’ humble offer to wanting everything He had to give. If Jesus insisted, Peter wanted it all!
But the washing didn’t end with Jesus. After He’d finished polishing everyone’s walkers, Jesus told them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:13)
We have the power to wash feet. While that may not seem like a huge blessing on the surface, think about what Jesus is saying here: the disciples now had the ability to humbly lead others to Jesus, and thus to everlasting life.
Whose feet can you wash this week?