“Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, ‘Lord, do You wash my feet?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall You wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.'” (John 13:5-8, NASB)
I have heard good sermons on this passage from John, most of which come to the conclusion — and rightly so — that Jesus used this moment as a teaching illustration of how we should humble ourselves and serve one another. Yet I think there is an overlooked message here, the one that would have been most likely the immediate impression that Peter would have experienced in that original context of that moment: that unless you allow The Lord to come close in your lowest needs and moments, and let Him serve you like a menial servant to cleanse and wash and nurture you, you will not truly share life with him.
The tendency in all our various concepts of God is to keep him at a bit of a distance, which seems only right considering his greatness and holiness. He is God, we are human, and this truth easily becomes a stumbling block when God calls us close. Yet the Lord has given us countless indications that he is near, that he knows our thoughts, cares about the most intimate details of our lives.
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I think Peter’s soul absorbed this incredible concept as he watched Jesus wash his feet: “You, Son of God, insist that I must let YOU serve me, even menially and tenderly, in the ways only a servant or close intimate friend would do. This is a condition of our relationship. I already know I must honor and serve you as the Son of God, AND now you say I must offer my lowest needs to you to touch, to cleanse, to bless, to heal. It’s all or nothing. I cannot keep you at a distance. I cannot say to myself, this is too small or too dirty to invite The Lord into. To have any part with you at all, I must see you also in this way, as my friend who serves me in the most humble of moments.”
Ponder that, dear children of God, and let any barriers in your mind fall away so Jesus may love you in all the ways He longs to.