John 13 – Embodiment

Read John 13

The narrative of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet is one of the most meaningful and beautiful pictures we get of Jesus’ love and humility.  Honestly, the longer that you think about it and read it, the more beautiful it becomes as it is the embodiment of everything that Jesus has been teaching.

Though not necessarily recorded in John until now, Jesus talks at length in the three synoptic Gospels about “greatness” in the Kingdom of God.  The one who would be great (read: a leader) among you must be a servant.  Here Jesus lives into that teaching in a very tangible way, taking the lowest of household jobs as an act of love.

Also not recorded in John is Jesus’ teaching about the treatment of others, especially our “enemies.”  John makes a special note here that Judas, the disciple who would betray Jesus, was also sitting at the table and had his feet washed by Jesus.  We know that Jesus knows what is about to transpire; He would not be surprised later in the garden by Judas’ kiss.  Yet in this moment, Jesus washes Judas’ feet as well which takes servanthood and humility to a totally new level.

Still more interesting in this chapter are Jesus’ interactions with Peter.  First, at the table, Peter’s reaction of indignance that such a thing would happen, and later Peter’s unwitting commitment to follow Jesus and even lay down his life for Jesus.  Both times Jesus lovingly puts Peter in his place, working to show him that there are much deeper things happening.

We too can be like Peter, and even like Judas at times, outwardly showing our commitment while inwardly scheming for our own gain.  Thanks be to God that Jesus went to the cross to show us His grace too.