Bible reading: John 13:14-15.
Based on Desired of Ages chapter 71.
Jesus was gathered with his disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Jesus was willing to celebrate the feast with is disciples alone. He knew that his time had come, but he still had some quiet hours ahead. Jesus invested all these hours to teach his disciples and help them.
They celebrated Passover together in the last two years. But this time something was different. The disciples perceived something saddened Jesus.
While they were gathered at the table, Jesus said: “And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God. After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:15-18).
In that last night with his disciples, Jesus had many things to tell them. But Jesus saw that they could not bear all he had to say to them. “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest” (Luke 22:24). Each one of the disciples wished to hold the most honored place in the kingdom. They had compared them among themselves, and, instead of considering the other as more dignified, each one thought to be the best. John and James dared to ask Jesus to be seated each one to the right and left side of the throne of Christ. The other disciples got outraged.
Judas, was the most severe with John and James. Are we severe as well with one another? Do we have too much “zeal” in order to “help” others to become better people or “more holy”? The authentic concern does not lead us to be severe with others, but to act with love towards them.
If we are rigorous applying judgment to others, is it not that we are uncertain of our own behavior, or that we try to justify ourselves with our many works so others can see it? “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3).
In that context of pride, someone had to wash the feet of the guests to the feast, that was the habit. But each one of the disciples, with wounded pride, decided not to do the task of a servant.
Jesus taught them that saying “I am a disciple” does not make me one, neither assures me one place in the kingdom of God. Jesus waited a while to see their reaction. Finally was him who stood up and washed their feet.
The gospel says: “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” (John 13:5). The disciples felt shame and humiliation. They understood the reproach, and they saw themselves from a new different perspective.
This is how Jesus showed his love for his disciples. The selfish spirit that filled their heart, filled Jesus with sadness. Nevertheless, Jesus did not argue with them about the situation. Instead, he gave them one example they would never forget.
Judas seated in the first place, at the right side of Jesus. Christ served him the first. John was left to the last place. But John did not consider this as a reprehension or contempt.
When Peter’s turn arrived, he exclaimed with astonishment: “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (John 13:6). The condescension of Jesus broke his heart. Peter felt full of shame of thinking that none of the disciples was doing this duty. “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7) said Jesus. Peter could not bear to see the Lord, to whom he believed to be the Son of God, doing the role of a servant. All his soul was rebelling against this humiliation. He did not understand that Jesus came to this world for this. “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet” (John 13:8).
Solemnly, Christ answered to Peter: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8). Jesus had came to wash the heart from all sin. By refusing to allow Christ to wash his feet, Peter was rejecting the purification of his heart. He was actually refusing his Lord. Will you refuse Jesus today? Are you going to lose the privilege of participating in this ceremony today? If you feel sinful, unworthy, this is the moment to cleanse your guilt. It is the time to let Jesus cleanse your sin. It is time to allow your brother or sister to be cleansed by Jesus. It is time to allow Jesus to cleanse your brother by you taking the place of Christ by washing the feet of another.
The true humbleness consists in receiving, with a thankful heart, any provision made to us, and to serve Christ with fervor. Probably it is more easy to do favors rather than receive them. The pride does not allow us to receive favors.
I invite you now to participate in the Communion service, starting with the washing of feet. I invite you to be in harmony with one another. I invite you to accept Jesus, and to not consider ourselves better than others. I invite you to accept the mutual pardon and service.