Each of these text passages cover the events of what we now know as the Last Supper. This was, of course, the last meal Jesus would have eaten before the crucifixion. And this meal, as we know, took place at the Passover celebration. So the Exodus passage gives us the story of THE Passover, in which Israelites enslaved in Egypt painted lambs’ blood on the door jambs to signal the angel of death to pass by their homes en route to killing all of the firstborn of Egypt. In the Psalm, we read about giving thanks to God for hearing our cries for help, just as Israel cried for help in being released from their bondage. In I Corinthians, Paul reminds us why we celebrate communion. And finally, in John, we read about the washing of feet by Jesus.
I want to focus on the feet washing today. What a strange story, isn’t it? Sitting at dinner with 12 of your closest friends, enjoying your meal and some wine (presumably). And all of a sudden, that friend who is sort of the leader of your group gets up from his seat, changes into more comfortable clothes, and starts washing your feet? But this is even more interesting because this wasn’t just a friends who likes to take charge. This was Jesus. King of the Jews. God Incarnate. Washing feet. And thinking about the footwear of the day, and the irregularity of the bathing habits of people of ancient times, I can’t image how gnarly those 12 pairs of feet had to be. If Mike Rowe lived 2,000 years ago, I think feet washing would have been featured on an episode of Dirty Jobs.
So what is the significance of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples? As I read some commentaries to prepare for this blog entry, I found two things that Jesus was probably trying to get across to his closest disciples. First, that he loved them beyond any measure, just as he loves all of us just the same. He was willing to do one of the dirtiest jobs of the times to signify his love for his followers (see vs. 34-35). The other thing is that Jesus humbled himself, just as we are to humble ourselves. Here is Jesus, THE KING, humbling himself to a job typically only done by indentured servants. As Jesus said, he came to serve, not be served (Matthew & Mark).
So, not that we need to start washing feet, but we need to meet the people around us where they are at, and to serve them and love them, just as Jesus did the same for us. Happy Easter to all of you!