John 13:1-15 NRSVue
1Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2The devil had already decided that Judas son of Simon Iscariot would betray Jesus. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from supper, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had reclined again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for that is what I am. 14So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
The fourth Gospel describes the Last Supper without mentioning the Eucharist. Instead it describes Jesus washing his friends' feet. There is a special sort of inter-communion, which is happening every day: when we team up with others who, like our Lord at the Last Supper, are happy to serve people's needs. On his knees like a servant, Jesus turned hierarchies upside down – /If I being your lord and master have washed your feet/ - and celebrated the community of those who serve.
Holy Thursday celebrates deep signs of the mystery of God's love. In the washing of the feet and the giving of his body and blood we find signs of Jesus' service and love. His invitation is to allow him serve us, and to receive his body and blood. Maybe in prayer today you can imagine him washing your feet, allowing this intimacy as he touches you in service and care. He wants to be close to you like this. His invitation is that we be as open to him in love as he is to us. We have all been recipients of service in our lives. Maybe in prayer today give thanks for the service of anyone who has brought us close to God. Engage them in your memory; allow your heart be enlarged in thanks to them and to God whose love works with and through them
There's much in the gospel story or words of Jesus that we can't immediately understand. He says little about the meaning of the washing of the feet, except that it's about service, and then just that we should do it too. By doing something in the example or name of Jesus, we often find its meaning. Or by just listening to his word, it begins to make sense. This is heart-knowledge, and prayer-knowledge.
Jesus is facing his 'hour'. He has no illusions about what lies ahead, of what would be involved in 'departing from this world'. But all his thought is for his disciples; he wants to give them an example of how they should live - in loving service.
Jesus loved his own 'to the end', without limits. Where do I place limits to my love of others?
Jesus knows who he is - where he has come from, where he is going. He is teaching his disciples that their true identity is to be servants of one another in his image. I ask to learn what I need to learn from this scene.