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Making Space To See Our Need

by James Madsen, Pastor of Discipleship
February 27, 2020

Then he [Jesus] poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”  Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”  Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” —John 13:5-8 (ESV)

John is the only gospel to record the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper—and while this behavior might be odd to us, it is really another picture of Jesus going to the cross to die for our sins. In verse 8, Peter is resistant to having Jesus wash his feet. On some level, we’d all rather serve than to be served. We are so resistant to showing our need for help, much less our need for someone to save us. Jesus responds to Peter’s resistance by saying, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Jesus is talking about much more than the physical washing of Peter’s feet in that moment. He is saying that unless we let Jesus cleanse us—let Him die on the cross for our sins and receive the cleansing that comes from putting our trust in Him—we are not of Him. Jesus came to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. But Jesus does not end there. He calls us to lay down our lives for others, just as He did for us. Love is dying to self and living for others. There is no love without suffering. Ann Voskamp says, “A Christ-shaped life is not a comfortably shaped life, but a cross-shaped life.” Jesus calls us to receive His grace and then lay down our lives so that others may experience that grace! The fruit of our faith in Jesus is seen in our love for others.