We need Jesus to wash us? – John 13:1-17, Part 4

When Jesus says that unless he washes Peter’s feet, Peter has no part with him, that gets Peter’s attention.  Peter responds a characteristically big way, as we read in John 13, verse 9,

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

A classic overreaction from Peter.  We love Peter for his passion, though.  I can see him shoot his feet out from under his robe, so Jesus can easily wash them.  Peter is serious.  When he asks Jesus to wash he hands and head, I don’t think Peter is joking around here.  He’s the kind of personality who would probably make the other disciples roll their eyes, “Geesh, Peter, calm down.  You’re so dramatic, so literal!” 

No, Jesus wasn’t interested in giving literal baths here.  Yes, symbolically he does want to wash or clean the whole person, but not the physical body.  That’s what a bath is for.  Jesus has a deeper cleaning in mind, emotionally, intellectually, relationally, spiritually.  You could say that Peter is, unknowingly, on to something here.  Jesus wants us to experience holistic transformation. 

But Peter has jumped the gun a bit, which is why Jesus responds in verse 10,

“’A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’  For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.”

I think Jesus smiles at Peter and is essentially saying, “Just doing foot washings today, Peter.  But you’re on to something.  You don’t realize how clean you are.”  I think Jesus could be saying, “Peter, I know you are my true follower.  You have truly given your life already,” especially considering what he knew Peter would do in just a matter of hours. Peter would do something that you would not think a true follower of Jesus would ever do.  Peter would deny Jesus three times, and yet Jesus would affirm that Peter was his genuine follower, and Peter truly was a genuine follower.

But one person sat around the table that night who wasn’t a true follower of Jesus, Judas, and the amazing example of Jesus washing his betrayer’s feet.  Think about Jesus, loving Judas, even at the end, reaching out to him, but also speaking truth to him, knowing that Judas had not given his life to follow Jesus, and was actually already actively working against Jesus. Jesus loves him too.

Then Jesus explains why he washed their feet, and we’ll learn about that in the next post.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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