John 13:3-11 : Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and was going to God, arose from supper, and laid aside his outer garments. He took a towel, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “You don’t know what I am doing now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “Someone who has bathed only needs to have his feet washed, but is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” For he knew him who would betray him, therefore he said, “You are not all clean.”
It is interesting to hear John describe what Jesus did. He explains what Jesus knew as He was doing it. It appears that John, as he was remembering the event, knew more than He did when it happened. This is just as Jesus says here. This is an amazing scene in which the God physically made Himself a servant. He took off his outer clothes, wrapped a towel around His waist, got a basin and started washing feet without explanation. As I mentioned before, foot washing was a pretty dirty job and I doubt that any rabbi had done this before. Who knows, perhaps Peter had never had to do this.
Now this throws the idea of masters and slaves into chaos. Now you know why a Christian nation like England would find themselves getting rid of slavery (and later the United States too).
When Jesus got to Peter, he couldn’t just sit there and not say anything. Peter was definitely uncomfortable with this, but Jesus didn’t give Him a way around it. Jesus did tell Peter that he would understand later, but Peter told Him to stop, so Jesus told him more. Then Peter over adjusted and Jesus was the one to say “no.”
We don’t think low of Peter because he really is like all of us in some way. When I fail to trust in God, I frequently start overreacting. It’s hard for me to not understand things and so I try to figure things out even if it isn’t God’s time. This story holds an important lesson for me about waiting for God’s timing.
I realize that if I trust in Jesus, I don’t need to understand everything that is going on around me. I just need to know that Jesus is in control and believe Him when He says: “You don’t know what I am doing now, but you will understand later.”
Jesus does explain more right after these verses, but I think that much of its deeper meaning was saved for after the Holy Spirit was to come upon them.
Again we hear a reference to Judas being “unclean”. Now you will have to wait and learn what Jesus said about it tomorrow (unless you get your Bible and look it up now).
Education: This is a fabulous display of how good teaching is done. Jesus starts out with a physical demonstration in front of His students. The lack of explanation causes the students to consider what is being done, attempting to understand with all the curiosity they can muster. Jesus is also using the methods of a role model. This suggests that, in education, it is what the teacher does that will be learned. It says this outright in Luke 6:40. This also suggests that there is truth to the saying that “Actions speak louder than words.”