Holy Week: Wednesday


From John:

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them…

The foot-washing piece of this is beautiful. But, painful. Sometimes the modern day appropriations of it make me cringe; for instance, I recently kept running across photos of a bride washing her husband’s feet in their wedding (where were the photos of the husband washing her feet???). Still, I do appreciate the very ritual of it – there’s no way to do it in a polished and natural way. That’s why I love seeing and experiencing it in worship or some kind of gathering. It’s awkward. It’s raw. It’s not an easy posture – squatting down and bending forward. It’s totally authentic.

Yet it seems equally difficult to be in the other position. Feet bare and being handled and grappled by someone else. It’s a position of vulnerability. I love Dr. McKenzie’s reflection:

A deeper reason we don’t want Jesus handling our feet is because to allow Jesus to touch our feet is to allow him to touch our will. We all have a mind; we all have emotions; and we all have a will—our decision making power. Our feet are how we put our decisions in motion and get places, do things. We can think about doing something. “I think I’ll go to her father’s memorial service out of respect for her.” We can feel we ought to do something. “I have a feeling it would be a good thing to do.” But if we are going to actually show up and walk up to her afterward and offer a comforting embrace, our feet have to be involved.

To allow Jesus to cleanse our feet is to remove all that prevents us from using our feet to follow him. To scrub away our insecurities, to wash away our weariness, to buff off our bitterness.

I long for that cleansing – from my head and heart…all the way down to my toes.

From Jan Richardson again:

Blessing that Waits
to Come to Your Aid

When I have become
so reliant on myself
that I cannot see
the need that gnaws
so deep
in my soul,

open my eyes,
open my heart,
open my mouth
to cry out
for the help
that you do not ration,
the deliverance
that you delight to offer
in glad and
generous measure.

[Image from Mihee via Pinterest]