“Jesus loved His own who were in the world, and He loved them to the end.
… He got up from the table, … took a towel and tied it around His waist.
Then He poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel.”
It was July, and our travel thermometer read 130 F. Unbelievable desert heat was taking a toll on our team of Wisconsinites, whose home state rarely breaks 100 in the summertime. I had been bumping around in a tough old truck, having meetings and checking on the children’s programs our team was involved with in the Saharawi refugee camps. Afternoon “siestas” were an absolute necessity, as our cool-weather team struggled to find any relief.
I had gone into a tent, leaned back on a pillow, and the next thing I realized was that someone was gently washing my feet, one at a time, in a basin of water. It was like floating in a dream. One of our team ladies was on her knees, silently pouring water over my dusty, dry feet over a basin, wiping away the fine sand that seemed to find its way into everything…even closed suitcases.
I gently came out of the dream, wishing I could have stayed there all day!
The experience communicated care, love, tenderness . . . all in a simple, very practical act. Walking around in a desert includes sand getting into everything…hair, ears, eyes, teeth . . . and every piece of fabric you are wearing. So, washing someone’s feet includes addressing a very practical need, but also the tender, personal care given.
In a moment that Jesus knew would be His last personal time with His closest inner circle of friends, Jesus washed their feet. This could have easily taken an hour or more, going friend to friend. On His knees, His Hands would have taken their sand-weathered feet, one at a time, bringing each into the basin of water He placed before each man. Rubbing away the tiny grains of sand that seems to find its way into every crevice and pore takes time. With a gentle massaging motion, the clean water becomes cloudy as the sand loses its grip on the skin and nails. The repeated changing of the water for each person adds to the unhurried time spent together. There is time to speak with each other as the harshness of the earth slowly floats to the bottom of the bowl, and the refreshing sense of being cleaned and soothed by someone who has been on their knees, the position of a servant before you, leaves a lingering experience of the sweet, humble, personal care of a friend.
Jesus knew exactly what lay before Him in the coming hours. He knew that this would be the last time they would share the Passover Meal together. The circle of friends did not know what He was facing in the coming hours and days. He chose to take the time to be with His twelve. . . to model very personally what He wanted them to be like as they carried on without His physical presence.
Have you allowed Him to wash your feet? Can you sit still long enough to let Him sit with you? Look into each other’s eyes? Can you allow Him to see, and wash away the things that cling to you as a result of where you’ve walked? Can you accept His loving care for you . . . or are you too embarrassed or ashamed to let Him come that close to the life you’ve been walking through? Can you accept that His Purpose is to share His Table with you, having washed away all that Life has held, and held onto you?
You are invited.