I think Carl Honore observation is my everyday experience –
“In our fast-moving modern world, it always seems that the time-train is pulling out of the station just as we reach the platform. No matter how fast we go, no matter how cleverly we schedule, there are never enough hours in the day.”
We use words like, “I feel lost”, “he just lost his way”. Of course, everywhere we go, there we are. What we are trying to articulate is that in the midst of a confusing, hectic, complicated world we lose clarity, the main thing is pushed to the peripheral and we get swamped with the insignificant. We even use mind-games to help regain perspective, clarity-
- If you had only $50 for the rest of the week with no food in your house, what would you spend that money on?
- If you were stranded on an island and you could only take 5 items, what would you take?
We’re familiar with such questions, but what if we were to go a bit deeper and ask –
“If you had one day left on this Earth, what would you do?”
It’s a sobering thought. What I find astounding is that scripture describes this exact scenario in the life of Jesus. If I had one day left, I’d make sure I see its sunrise and sunset, I’d be with family, I would eat as much food as possible. Jesus, on the other hand, decides to wash some feet.
John 13 describes this moment, we call it the Last Supper. What John does not do is explain what brought this seemingly strange action of Jesus about. Fortunately for us, we have the other Gospels to fill in the gaps.
Luke 22 lets us know what was the happening at that Last Supper.
Luke 22:14-16 (NLT)
When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
You can hear the anguish in Jesus tone, “I have been VERY eager to eat this Passover meal with you BEFORE my suffering…” Jesus is aware that His time had fully come. I would have thought that the disciples would have enough emotional intelligence to pick up that Jesus is not Himself, there is discomfort in His tone as He contemplates what is about to occur. However, the disciples are fine to form even in this moment.
Luke 22: 24 (NLT)
Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.
This is not the first time that this conversation had come up. In fact, James and John’s own mother was part of this same argument when she requested her two sons sit on Jesus right and left in Glory.
Now at what we call The Last Supper the scenario is incredible. Jesus has one night left, one meal left, one lesson left and the future leaders of the Church are bickering, arguing about who would have the greater accolades, who would be better known, who would be the greater and who would be lesser. The disciples are completely lost in their own arrogance and pride, seduced by a cultural norm that contradicts everything that they have observed and learned from their teacher.
On this last night, Jesus gives one last lesson, before He must endure the cross there is One Last Thing.
He disrobes picks up the basin and towel that had been in the room the entire time. Silence grips the room and the atmosphere changes. The washing of feet was a task reserved for the lowest of slaves, many in Israel thought it not appropriate for even Jewish slaves, no, this task was only appropriate for Gentile slaves. And here is the teacher washing the feet of the future leaders of the Church who are childishly bickering and arguing about greatness…one last thing.
Of course, the lesson is profound and Jesus words following this release any follower of Christ from simply being an ‘admirer’ of Christ and being a true disciple,
John 13:16-17 (NLT)
I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
We can know what to do and not do it, we’re blessed not because we ‘know’ but because we ‘do’. Jesus example also demonstrates a challenge when He washes the feet of a man who He knew was hours away from betraying Him. Evidently, we don’t get to pick and choose who we serve.
William Barclay made a challenging observation –
“It is easy and so natural to resent wrong and to grow bitter under insult and injury; but Jesus met the greatest injury and the supreme disloyalty, with the greatest humility and the supreme love”
We too get lost and consumed in a culture and system that runs in contradiction to our true home. We too enter that upper room and like those original disciples walk straight past the basin, the towel, and water, the equipment for service. Clarity gets lost, pride rises and then in a moment our beautiful Lord reminds us about one last thing…
“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. “