Reading: John 13: 1-17 and 31-35
Verse 34: A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Jesus has gathered the disciples together – one last time. Judas has already agreed to betray Jesus. In fact, Jesus will be arrested later that same night. This is Jesus’ last time with the disciples. He knows it. It is interesting what and how Jesus reaches in these last hours together.
This night, Jesus chooses to wash the disciples’ feet. In this time, bathing was occasional. It was the feet that were often the dirtiest. The roads were dirt, animals used the same roads, the sewer was the gutter, the common footwear was sandals. You get the picture. Jesus could have blessed some water and had a “remember your baptism” moment. But He chose to wash their feet. Jesus knelt on the ground and washed off all the dust and dung and whatever else they had walked through that day.
After He is done and returns to the table as an equal, Jesus asks them this question: “Do you understand what I have done for you”? Without waiting for an answer, Jesus goes on to explain. He plainly states, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you”. The Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Messiah, has stopped down and washed your disgusting feet willingly and tenderly and lovingly. Jesus then tells them that they will be blessed if they do these things too.
Our passage concludes with an exclamation point of why Jesus chose to wash their feet. The disciples already know the two great commandments: ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength’, and ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. This night Jesus extends the second one, saying, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”. He loved all. Those with stinky feet, those who persecuted Him, those who were in sin, those who only wanted and never gave, those who no one loved. Yup, all. Jesus says to us what He said to the disciples: go and do as I have done. Be a servant, be a witness, set the example, love one another. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.