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Before Jesus died, He had one last dinner with His friends. His followers. At this last meal, so many subtle but powerful things happened and were said. Perhaps most striking was when Jesus, Son of God, got up and began to wash their filthy-from-miles-of-daily-walking-in-sandals feet.
John 13 records:
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
In that culture, to wash someone’s feet was the ultimate act of humility and servitude. Yet Jesus leveraged the height of His power to do good and serve those around him. This is our example as well. But let’s pay attention to the first person He chose to initiate this act with. Stubborn, impulsive, prideful Peter –
“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’
Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’
‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’
Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’
‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’
Before we’re hard on Peter, realize how difficult this must have been for him. This holy Messiah wanting to scrub a towel in between your dirty toes. More than that, though, we see here a reality and a principle. Peter was comfortable serving Jesus; He was uncomfortable with the thought of Jesus serving him. On the surface this seems noble. And yet Jesus basically says until you learn to receive from me, you won’t truly have anything to give for me.
Maybe you’re one of those people that are very comfortable taking care of other people but not so good at taking care of yourself. It’s comfortable for you to help others; nearly impossible to ask or receive help for yourself.
I definitely can relate to Peter here in a way. I can be good at working for God; not always so great at receiving from God. I can be good at talking and giving God my words; not so great at listening and receiving His words. I can stay busy at trying to prove my love for God; not so great at humbly embracing God’s love for me, letting my roots go deep in His soil of kindness.
But Jesus’ words for Peter are his words for us. In this time of fasting, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, we need to allow Jesus to minister to us; not just vice versa. We need to receive from Him. To sit in His kindness, to enjoy His Presence. To not perpetually volunteer dangerously more than we’re letting Him speak to and nourish us during the week. After all, we can’t give away what we don’t have. And we’re not changed by trying to prove our love for God; we’re changed by trusting and receiving His love for us.
This may be as simple as taking a break from rushing through devotions in the morning to sit in silence and enjoy just being with God. To spend less time telling God how messed up you are and spend time thanking Him for how loved you are. To focus your attention for a few weeks on all the verses of how much God delights in you as His child. Maybe spend some extra time soaking in God’s Presence through worship in your car or in a long walk. Whatever it looks like, we need to stand under the waterfall ourselves, and not just hand everyone around us cups of water while inside we dry up. Jesus wants to pour into your cup today.