In our current series of blogs, we will look together at John 13.1-30 and see what a church that loves God’s people looks like.
As Jesus walks about the upper room, bending one by one before the disciples they are stunned into silence, as the king washes them. It is a silence not just of embarrassment at not being unwilling to do the job themselves, but the awkward silence of finding the guest of honour doing it. Jesus shakes all their presuppositions about themselves and their God. it is just a warning tremor of the shaking that is about to happen on the cross.
They are silenced, except Peter of course – the master of speaking when no word is required. Oh but you should be glad he does speak up, for it shows us even more about our God and ourselves. Jesus bends before Peter, Peter blurts out, v 6 "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
None of this makes sense to Peter. He sees no point to his Lord serving him. He can’t see the depth of his own problem. Nor can he grasp the full extent of Jesus love for him. But he will…the next 24 hours will show him – as he watches the one who washed his feet, the one he will deny even knowing, stagger up that hill and die for him.
Jesus says…unless I wash you…you can have no part with me. The washing of the feet is but a symbol of the washing that the cross will bring. That’s why he sheds his blood, so that through his blood, Peter can come to Jesus to be washed clean…pure…spotless…forgiven! Jesus serves Peter…because only he can serve in this way…
Do you see the promise in verse 8…‘part’ with Jesus. It is a word used in the OT to describe the gift that God gave his people of the land – his blessing to his people. Now Jesus tells Peter, the blessing God offers us is much more than land. It is a share in Jesus – he is our inheritance. And only if he washes us, can we claim him – relationship with he who made and loves us.
This is the great news of the gospel. It is not just that Jesus washes us so we are clean (I’m clean…not guilty…I am free to go…) NO YOU ARE FREE TO STAY! With me…in my place…with your Father! (Jn 14.1-3).
Peter doesn’t fully grasp all of this yet, but he grasps enough to know he wants in. He wants to be where Jesus is. He says, wash me Lord…all of me…hands…head…feet…the lot…THE SUPERWASH!
I love Peter. I love his passion. He’s always 100%. There is no half-heartedness here. I want to be that way with Jesus – desperate to be a part of what he’s a part of. So I’d say with Peter, wash me Lord… wash me clean…I want in!
But of course the danger of that is we can live the Christian life…never quite sure if I’m clean enough…what if he finds some dirt under my nails…what if I disappoint him…what’s your week been like? Clean?
That’s what is so comforting about Jesus answer to Peter’s call for the super wash…v.10…you are clean…your whole body is clean!
This basin and towel, this is nothing. What I’ll do tomorrow on the cross, as I shed my blood is going to make you whiter than snow (Isaiah 1.18).