Passover had arrived! It would be a day of preparation for the feast shared by Jesus and the disciples. Only Jesus knew what awaited them by nightfall.
Picture the room where Jesus and His disciples shared the Passover feast. Gathered around a big table, the friends relaxed and enjoyed time to be together as family and indulge in the feast before them. Can you hear the disciples sharing stories as brothers do, comparing notes and ribbing each other for missteps and blunders? The book of Luke tells us the conversation of the disciples escalated to who was the greatest among them. (Luke 22:24) Can you see Jesus watching them, soaking in their brotherhood? I think Jesus treasured these last few moments with those closest to Him, knowing how things were about to change.
In the midst of the revelry Jesus rose from His place at the table, laid aside His outer garments, and tied a towel around His waist. Can you hear the room begin to quiet as they watched, then go silent as He poured water into a basin, knelt before each of the disciples and washed their feet, just as a servant would have done?
Let’s take a moment to put this foot washing into context. Did you run barefoot as a kid? I didn’t like shoes – still don’t really, and I welcome any opportunity to go barefoot. I remember my sister and I would come in from outside at the end of a day playing outside and compare how black the bottoms of our feet were. This is what how the feet of the disciples looked. They walked everywhere they went, barefoot or with sandals that gave them protection from the elements of the ground but didn’t keep their feet from being crusted in filth. Washing the feet of guests wasn’t just the role of a servant, but the lowest ranking servant. It was not a job anyone wanted – anyone but Jesus.
What a contrast to the conversation about which disciple was most important! Jesus wanted to show His love for them and demonstrate again that loving others is about serving and putting others first, not being great in the eyes of others.
Later that night, Jesus demonstrated a different type of servant-hood as He knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew tells us as Jesus spoke with His Father His heart was “sorrowful, even to death”. (Matt. 26:38) Remember Jesus was fully human. What thoughts would be going through your mind if you knew you were facing what the next 24 hours would bring to Jesus? How would you feel? Would you beg and plead for mercy, asking for pardon? Jesus did.
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;
nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
Our sin keeps us from God, and from spending eternity in His perfect Heaven. Jesus knew the only solution for this was for Him to be the sacrifice for us. He lived a perfect, sinless life and His death could atone for the sins that keep us away. He was willing to pay the price, but still asked if there was another way. For me it can be easy to forget or gloss over how impossibly painful all of this was for Jesus.
When Jesus confirmed there was no other way, He rose, went into the garden, woke His disciples and humbly walked into the Father’s plan. In the next 24 hours Jesus would give up His position and power and serve His Father, and us by giving His life for ours.
I don’t think any of us wants to be in the situation we find ourselves this day. We don’t want to be social distancing, hearing about sickness and death, wondering when things will return to some sort of normal. We don’t like the uncertainty and want it all to be different. Those feelings are natural, and God expects us to go through all sorts of emotions. The question is whether we have considered what God wants to do in and through us during this time. Have we stopped whining and complaining long enough to approach God as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, committing to His will, not our own? Are we giving our time to Him to serve Him and others in any way we can, or are we going through this time kicking and screaming, pouting because we can’t have what we want?
Jesus displayed a servant’s heart throughout His time on earth, but never more than this day. What an example He was of seeing beyond circumstances to God’s desires and bowing Himself to God’s will. As we go through this day, let’s find ways to thank Jesus for His sacrifice by finding ways to serve God and others.
Blessings and peace to you today!