TODAY’S READING: Luke 22; John 13
John’s version of the Last Supper is unique from the Synoptic Gospels, but not contradictory. John’s account focuses on Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. Interestingly, foot washing was not part of the Jewish Passover ritual. Jesus instituted something profoundly new, not just because He flipped the leadership/servant script by washing, but because He also crossed an international line, for “even a Jewish slave could not be required to wash his master’s feet; such an act was only required of a non-Jewish slave!” Jesus not only demonstrated that leaders must humbly serve, but He also demonstrated that His followers must serve the nations, that they must give up their racial prejudices, that they must lay down their lives for all peoples, not just for the people they love or the people of their birth.
One of the last acts of Jesus’ freedom was to live out a cross-racial service and demand it be the norm for all who bear His name. We must wash the feet of the nations, even at cost to our own. Jesus would have His own feet nailed to the cross—as must ours be—for the feet that bear good news are ever bloodied.
When we understand that foot washing was an act Jews only received from non-Jews, we see Peter’s objection in John 13:8 in the double angst of status and race. Jesus’ answer must then be viewed with the same lens: If we will not serve, we have no part with Him, and if we will not cross racial and cultural barriers, we have no part with Him. To share in the missionary heart of Jesus is not an option, it’s not an appendage, it’s not something for the elite. If we do not share in God’s burning passion to love and serve all peoples, we have no part of Him!
We must follow His example on both counts. We must come down out of pride and we must come down out of prejudice, and we must carry our crosses that all men might be saved, that all unreached peoples might hear the gospel. The primary way we serve our world today without pride or prejudice is to ensure that every unreached people group hears of the Lord who came down from heaven to wash feet—all of our feet. By this all the world will know that we are His disciples, not by taking care of our friends and peers, but by serving the least, last, and lost. The world will know Jesus when we bend low at their feet to serve them, when we explain the action with tongues that still marvel at the God who died for man.
Our hearts may move us, but our feet must transport us. It is not enough to be stirred emotionally, we must move geographically. We must let our feet take us down the difficult trails that lead to dangerous places, strip away our armor to take up towels and wash the feet of defiant peoples. Stupefied, they may just consider the invitation of the Savior, for what other God suffers such shame that we might be so clean?