A NEW COMMANDMENT
What would you say to your loved ones if you knew that you only had a few hours left? Time is short, and Jesus' earthly mission will soon come to an end as he departs this world and returns to the Father. He loves his disciples, and he will do so all the way to the end. Jesus never abandons his people. All of the drama that will soon unfold will not come as a surprise to Jesus because this is the plan of God and the hour is finally at hand. The supper with his disciples will be interrupted as the treachery of Judas Iscariot will soon reach its end. Jesus still has some things to teach his disciples, so during the meal, Jesus gets up, removes his outer garments, takes a towel, ties it around his waist, and begins to wash the feet of the disciples. This would have come as a complete surprise to the disciples because this was a task reserved for the lowliest servant. Some Jews insisted that Jewish slaves should not be required to perform such a task. The disciples would have been uncomfortable and embarrassed as Jesus went to each of them and washed their feet. The disciples sat in stunned silence as they watched Jesus do the unthinkable until Jesus came to Peter who protests. Peter wants an explanation and Jesus explains that he will not understand it now, but he would later. Peter will have none of this declaring that Jesus would never wash his feet. Jesus challenges Peter's position because one must be cleansed from sin if they are to share with Christ. Jesus washed the feet of Judas, his betrayer but it was only his feet that were clean, his soul was still dirty. Jesus continued until he had finished washing the feet of his disciples and then he put on his outer garments and resumed his place at the table. Jesus asks the disciples if they understand what he has done for them. The answer may seem obvious, but Jesus brings clarity to his actions. The disciples call him Teacher and Lord which Jesus affirms was right, but he points to his example and exhorts them to do the same for one another. Jesus challenges the disciples understanding of humility and service by reversing normal roles. Jesus tells them plainly that they are to follow his example.
Jesus is troubled in his spirit, and he shares with the group that one of them will betray him. Judas has been with Jesus all along, and the disciples appointed him as their treasurer, so when Jesus announces that there was a traitor in their midst, they do not necessarily suspect him. The disciples begin to look around and try to ascertain the identity of the traitor. Peter motions for John to ask Jesus who would do such a thing. John asks, and Jesus discloses that it will be the recipient of the bread that he dipped. The disciples watch as Jesus dips the morsel and then hands it to Judas. Judas receives it but there is no repentance, and Jesus tells him to act quickly. The disciples watch all of this take place before they eyes, but they do not understand it and think that Jesus is sending Judas on an errand to buy food or give to the poor. Judas left immediately and disappeared into the night.
A Little While
Judas leaves, and Jesus tells his disciples that everything is in motion and the events will begin shortly. Jesus speaks tenderly to his disciples because he will soon leave them and they will not be able to go with him. Jesus wants them to understand what is expected of them, so he commands them to love one another as he has loved them. The way that the disciples love one another will confirm their identity. Peter insists on knowing where Jesus is going and Jesus reiterates that he cannot go, but he will follow him afterward. Peter is not satisfied with Jesus' answer and wants to know why because he was willing to die for Jesus. Jesus questions his statement and then tells him that he will betray him three times before the rooster crows.
Things To Consider:
- How are you comforted by Jesus' faithfulness?
- What should we learn from Jesus' example?
- How does Jesus life demonstrate humility and service?
- How does Jesus wash us clean?
- What do you need to do in order to serve those around you?
- Why would Jesus wash the feet of his betrayer?
- How have you betrayed Jesus?
- Why does Jesus command us to love others?
- How do we deny Jesus?