washing feet

Jesus’ life was remarkable for the standards he constantly reset and the bar he raised for human behavior. When John describes the intriguing act of Jesus washing the disciples feet shortly before his death, he starts with a prelude statement that is helpful;

3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, ——–and began to wash his disciples’ feet. (John 13)

Three remarkable aspects of Jesus’ life come forth when we study this prelude statement-

  1. Conviction of his origin: Jesus knew that he had come from God. Man has a unique tendency to question his origin. Neither a lion that hunts nor a deer that is hunted, sits in the wild, wondering where they originated from, but we do. The question is not only prevalent but also important because the response to that question determines our behavior. A person who attributes his origin solely to his parents, will live his life doing all that is possible to please them. A person who believes that he evolved from animals finds all the justification he needs to justify animal instincts shaping his behavior. But a person who knows that he is the end result of the finger of God, will live his life out pleasing God and doing his will. As in the case of Jesus, living for God and fulfilling his plan becomes the mantra for life.
  1. Conviction of his destiny: As much as we wonder about our origin, we also wonder about our destiny. Where are we headed for? When the inevitable death arrives, what happens to us? A coherent explanation for our destiny and a conviction for eternal life is unique to Christian faith. Jesus knew that he was headed for eternal reunion with God. When the thief on the cross repented and requested that he be accepted, Jesus answered with confidence, “This day you will be with me in paradise”. He didn’t say, “Let me see if I first get there” or “let me see if I can negotiate with God to make it happen”. Paradise already was his domain and the thief was guaranteed a place there with Christ. A conviction of our destiny is critical to steady our lives here on earth. Compare a ship traveling through the ocean to a predetermined destination with one that aimlessly roams the seas. It is indeed a tragedy when man chooses to let go of the steadiness that comes with knowing you are sealed with God, only because he does not want to live a life of faith and union with Christ.
  1. Conviction of his power: Jesus also knew that the Father had put all things under his power. The contrast on the cross is amazing- crucified was the man who controlled all things, both in heaven and on earth. And when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter, it was no surprise, because this was a man who also reigned over death itself! And perhaps it is not very surprising that Jesus chose to wash the disciples feet; because in doing so, he knew that his divinity or his authority was not being compromised. In contrast, it is uncertainty and fear that breeds disrespect and conflict. When you are granted power to the highest as Jesus possessed, it is possible to lower oneself to the level of a servant. For the one who follows Christ and has been promised authority to do ‘greater things’, it is a conviction of that power that frees us to be humble and to serve.

 Jesus was perfection personified; he not only inspires, but also enables us to be likewise.

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