Prayers for Passion Week: Pride won't keep my feet filthy

Pride Won't Keep My Feet Filthy

John 13 

There comes a time in everyone’s lives where they go from baths to showers … or at least from being bathed to bathing themselves. For me, it had to be around 5 or 6 years old. That moment where I thought that I was independent enough to do my own thing (I rode my bike with no trainers, started making my plate and could pick out my own clothes) and I wanted to exercise that independence as much as I could. Bathing was one of those things. Not only was I capable but more than that … I didn’t want my mom or dad washing me once I knew how dirty I was.

The fourth day of Passion Week was mild in activity. As the sun went down on Wednesday (transitioning into Thursday), our Savior looked to have his last dinner with his disciples whom he would call friends moments later. While everyone likely had a meal on their minds, Jesus kneels down to perform the most humiliating service before the cross. He washed their feet. The disciples' dirty dogs were scrubbed by the Savior. We can read this many times, over and over and I believe we will never feel what the disciples felt in that moment. Feet washing isn’t the most glorious thing in the 21st century … even with socks and shoes and pedicures, and it was no more glorious then. It wasn’t uncommon to walk into the house of a person in that day and see a water basin near the door for feet washing. The act was one that was the responsibility of poor gentile servants and slaves. But for the average family … you’d wash your own feet. The water would be muggy and full of the dirt and clay that built up between the toes of those who’d been walking miles and miles each day; and the servant would spend hard time on their knees scrubbing and rinsing to make sure they were clean.

The job of a servant is taken on by Christ.

Jesus, just a day before he hangs with his blood running down the wooden beams of the cross, is kneeling to his friends to serve them. The disciples being confused and hesitant is warranted. This doesn’t make any sense. How can a King be a slave? The short answer is … HE HAS TO! And not for himself … but for his disciples. Let me say this … Yes, Jesus is giving us the example of how to humbly serve others BUT the focus of this post isn’t in that but in his interaction with Peter during this time.

You can’t wash my stinky feet!

The first time my wife told me my feet stunk, I was embarrassed… and not because I was surprised but because I already knew it. Just the same, the disciples knew how dirty their feet were. This alone made them not want to have Jesus clean them. The washing of feet was a daily ritual for people and the disciples had likely been prepared to take it on themselves before Jesus interrupted their flow. Peter tells Jesus flat out … you ARE NOT going to wash my feet. and Jesus responds in grace and truth. “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me (Jn 13:8).” What choice did he have at this point? Not much of one at all. At that point, it likely wasn't a matter of if he'd get his feet washed but rather, who would wash them. And Peter wanted to deal with his own dirt. He would rather ensure that if anyone cleansed him of the dirt and grime, it would be either him or someone lower than him. NOT THE SAVIOR. But that’s just it. Jesus was once again killing the religious norm of that day that said you can achieve or secure salvation through works. The washing of the disciples feet was Jesus saying … I am doing this today to ensure that you don’t have to go through the meaningless actions for spiritual gain. There is an ugly sense of pride that keeps us saying to Jesus, “No, I’ve got it … I can do it myself … let me just brush em off real quick” as a child would say. When Jesus cleanses … he does it in a way that we could never come close to. Our willingness to be cleansed by Him is a sign of our faith in His cleansing.(Ephesians 2:8-9)

They’re dirty again…

Just like the physical walk through life makes the feet dirty daily, our spiritual walk will get us dirty too. 1 John 1:7 says that Jesus will clean those who walk in his light of all sin and this means through faith (salvation and making us new) and throughout our lives (sanctification: the continual forming into Christ). Each and every day we are to go to Him as the chief cleanser of our lives … not the slave whom we have authority over … not ourselves whom we can keep our dirt secret… BUT TO THE SAVIOR WHO WOULD HUMILIATE HIMSELF TO SAVE. Once you are cleansed, Christ is faithful to keep you clean if you go to him with continued repentance and faith.

Kill my pride Jesus.
My dirt isn’t a secret to you.
You’ve made me clean.
and only you can keep me clean.
Remind me daily that I can’t get to salvation without you
and I am only in you if I continually allow you to clean me.
Kill my pride God.
My feet were filthy but you are faithful in cleaning me.
Amen.

Byron L. Cogdell