April 09, 2020 (Thursday) - Are You Clean? - A Reflection on John 13:1-15

Now 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. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then 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. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus 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.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

There are the obvious insights to be obtained from this passage and we have reflected upon earlier. One is about Servant Leadership (https://youtu.be/SXvRd1oEE1U) and the other about The Greatness of Humility (https://youtu.be/ADPoxhfZVnc). If you have the time, do go through them. Links can be found in the Description Box below. And while you’re there, you might wanna subscribe to these reflections by clicking the buttons alongside.

Today, I’d like us to reflect upon the not-so-obvious insights — like the need for cleansing, and ongoing cleansing — in the context of what is described in this story today. At the Last Supper, Lord Jesus drops to his knees before the apostles and begins to wash their feet. Peter (of course it would be Peter!) protests, saying, “You will never wash my feet,” to which our Lord responds, “Unless I wash you, you have no share of me.” This seems to be a reference to baptism.

Then Peter, who never knows when to quit, says, “Then wash all of me.” And Jesus retorts, “One who is bathed does not need to wash, and you are clean, except for your feet which are dirty.” Those of us who are baptized in Christ and walk in his ways are already made clean, but the journey is rough and, like it or not, our feet get dirty. Who wants dirty feet? And it is Jesus who cleans those feet, just as he cleans the rest of us when we come to him in baptism.

But just being baptized does not ensure cleansing. It is the repentance that goes along with it that ensures that. What is repentance? Remember the story of the prodigal son who found himself in a pig sty after squandering his inheritance. He returns to his Father, dirty and bedraggled, and very apologetic. His father graciously welcomes him home, and tells the servants to put the best robe on him. This is, obviously, after he has showered.

Now, the DESIRE to REMAIN fresh and clean is what constitutes repentance. Can you imagine, that after having bathed and dressed in fine robes, the boy returns to the pig sty? And, yet, doesn’t that describe many of us, even those who call ourselves Christian? We claim to be with Christ, yet we are not with him. Kinda like Judas. While washing Peter’s feet, our Lord said, “You are clean, but not all of you.” And he was talking about Judas. Because Judas didn’t just have dirty feet; he had a dirty soul.

Are our souls clean? It doesn’t matter if they are filthy, now is our chance to make them clean. Let us ask our Lord to wash us, and he will. And in his blood, no less. And “though our sins are like scarlet, we shall be made as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).