‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand’ (John 13:7)
Bible Reflection : John 13:1-17
Jesus knows that events are reaching a crisis, He knows that in only a matter of hours He will be living out the full extent of God’s love. But He knows also that the fear of sheer humanity will make it hard for His disciples to stay with Him and to come to terms with what it all means. So He washes his disciples feet. He lays down His outer clothing and takes up a towel, just as He will soon lay down His life and take it up again from the grave. The disciples turn to see what is going on and we can maybe imagine the conversation suddenly coming to an end. They hear the water being poured out and they see Jesus looking down at their feet, then up to each bewildered and confused face.
As always it seems, it is Peter who breaks the silence in his own inevitable way, spluttering out his rhetorical question, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet…’ Peter doesn’t understand – although it’s probably fair to say, none of them understand but only Peter has the courage to speak out. But I wonder, how might we have reacted if we had been there – how might we react today if someone came to wash our feet in this way. Yet the foot washing is a sign of the great love Jesus has for them and in a sense a prelude to the great commandment he would give them, ‘…love one another as I have loved you; by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another…’
In washing His disciples feet in this way during this meal, Jesus wasn’t only sharing of His love with His disciples, He was sharing Himself and giving of Himself in a way that they simply couldn’t understand. Later He would reveal this love for them, and indeed for us all, in an even greater way by giving Himself over to those who would crucify Him – and today we are called to follow His example.
As His disciples we are called to follow our Lord’s example of sharing and self-giving in the lives that we lead. We are called to show our love, care and compassion for all, to put the needs of others before our own needs, even if that means making sacrifices along the way. Jesus gave of Himself completely for us throughout His ministry, even to death on a cross. So surely then we can give something of our time, our energy, our resources and our very selves for others. Indeed that is what our Lord calls on us to do, ‘I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you…’(John 13:15)
All of this of course happened at that final meal Jesus had with His disciples before being handed over to the authorities who would ultimately have Him crucified. Normally we would be gathered together around the Lord’s Table to share in this Holy meal and to remember the sacrifice our Lord made for us. However, because of current restrictions we are unable to do so and I for one find myself struggling with this, not being able to gather as one in His name to share in this fellowship as we are used to.
Yet, whilst we may not be able to come together physically, we can still be together in Spirit and in that same Spirit we can be at one with our Lord, gathered around His table with all who profess His name. So let’s just come together in this way and as we gather in His name, just pause for a moment and listen – listen to the love echoed in His voice as He says to us, ‘This is my body which is broken for you, do this in remembrance of me…’ and allow that love to embrace you and hold you now, and each and every day.
Loving God, we thank you for Your grace and mercy and for all Your goodness to us. As we remember His sacrifice and seek to follow the example our Lord, may the ways in which we respond, the ways in which we seek to serve and the ways in which we behave at all times point to Jesus. We remember the sacrifice He made for us and we give thanks for the life we now have because of that. Help us now, we pray, to live those lives as He would have us, loving one another as He loves us. And all this we ask in Jesus name. Amen.