WASHED BY THE WORD
“He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’
‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well!’
“Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’ For He knew who was going to betray Him, and that is why He said not everyone was clean.” John 13:6-11 NIV.
Why are we going over this passage again? There is much gold to be mined from this incident and I am in no hurry to move on without digging a little deeper.
Yesterday, we explored the thought that humble submission to the Master’s service is the heart of unity with Him. Unless we are one with Him, we cannot recognize Him in a disturbing disguise in the least of people and serve them in the disposition of our Messiah.
Peter displayed the typical attitude that resisted what Jesus wanted to do for Him. He thought he was being humble. Don’t we all when we are asked to receive the gracious ministry or generous gift of someone else, let alone what Jesus wants to do for us? We think that we are too unimportant to bother God with our insignificant needs. We can take care of them ourselves because God is busy looking after much bigger issues in the world!
What we think is humility is actually a slap in God’s face. It is not humility; it is stupidity, revealing our misunderstanding of God as our Father. A true father is never too busy to listen to his child’s insignificant needs. He stoops to the little one, wipes away the tears and kisses the bumps and bruises better. How much more tender and loving is our heavenly Father who heals our hurts and “washes our feet” with His loving ministry to all our needs!
It is pride that resists Him and arrogance that slams the door in His face when He comes in the disguise of a slave to embrace us with His love and to draw us into His heart to become one with Him. When we refuse to submit to the generosity and ministry of His servants, we are in reality refusing Him and saying, in effect, ‘I don’t need you.’
Jesus’ gentle rebuke swung Simon Peter in the opposite direction. The Holy Spirit used an interesting title – Simon Peter. Was this a hint that Peter was in transition? He was still the old Simon, impetuous, vocal and volatile, but there was also an embryonic new Peter growing inside him. His spontaneous response to Jesus’ rebuke was to beg for an all-over wash, from head to foot because he desperately wanted to be one with his Lord. Peter might have been proud and did not understand but he was also honest and quick to correct, even over-correct his mistake.
Once again, Jesus wove a spiritual lesson into a simple act of hospitality. Just as a bath was enough to keep the body clean, so His disciples were “bathed” by Jesus’ words. Their bodies were clean; it was only their feet — their daily “walk” in the world that needed to be refreshed. We have been made clean by the blood of Christ, forgiven and made righteous once and for all, but our walk needs to be washed daily by the water of the Word so that our fellowship with our Lord may be unhindered by sin.
What a beautiful picture of what the Word of God does for us! Paul used the same imagery to describe a husband’s loving sacrificial service to his wife.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.” Ephesians 5:26 NIV.
Here is the key to oneness in marriage — the wife humbly submitting to her husband’s loving and sacrificial service and continually separating herself to him as her one and only lover. Humble submission the key to oneness with Jesus. If we keep short accounts with Him and submit to His “washing”, we will be ready when He needs us to wash someone else’s feet.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.