“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you?
You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
John 13:5, 12-17
I watched a handful of Jesus disciple’s respond to this passage last night at our Thursday Holy Week gathering.
It’s one of the most perplexing and provoking teachings of Jesus in my estimation.
It’s an act that challenges us in ways many other Christian practices do not.
-It pulls us out of our comfort zones.
-It messes with our heads.
-It crosses all kinds of lines.
-It’s dirty and awkwardly, public.
-It’s vulnerable and intimate.
-It’s a cultural tradition that we can’t seem to find an equivalent.
Yet, it’s moving to watch and experience in its genuinely humble simplicity.
There’s a sacred and subversive power that is touched in doing, that invites us to experience Jesus in a manner that helps humanize us in love.
But it cannot be forced, love is freely given and overflows gently and purposefully from one to another.
It’s a sacred act that’s profoundly important in preparing us especially to care for life as it enters the world and exits.
Loving the unlovely, the messy, the stink, the dangerously vulnerable and the dependent is a profoundly Christlike posture.
The servant…is king.
It’s a message and practice we desperately need in our culture, churches, homes and hearts.