The World’s Most Astonishing Drama
The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;
so he got up from the meal, took off his kouter clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:2-5 (NIV)
The drama described here at the “pointy end” of John's gospel is like theatre. The scene is set. Judas, the yet to be revealed “villain”, is ready to make his move, but only Jesus, the central character, knows exactly how the drama is going to unfold. The “audience”, his disciples, have no idea.
So when the curtains open at the beginning of Act 1 of this 'final week drama', the disciples are astonished at what they see: Jesus, the hero of the drama, has stepped off the stage and come down to be amongst his audience. And now, one by one, he is washing their feet! (Including, but unbeknownst to them, the feet of the one who is about to betray him).
It was just the first of many twists in a plot which, though laid out in the Scriptures for hundreds of years, they were only seeing clearly for the first time now.
What a surprise it is to discover truth for the first time! What an astonishing Kingdom, where the king washes the feet of his subjects, where evil is overcome by good, and where greatness proceeds from humility.
As I picture the scene of this last supper, I see that Jesus would have had to get right down on his knees in order to wash his disciples feet. It's not hard to understand the reaction of Peter who initially balked at the prospect of letting Jesus wash his feet.
Such humility as Jesus displayed lays wide open even the hardest of hearts, piercing our very soul. I can find in myself only two possible responses – to run, or to bow down, offering everything to the One who offered everything for me.
And I see too another truth revealed, that if I follow the example of Jesus and humble myself to serve others as he did, then even the hardest of hearts can be opened to the truth found in Jesus. When I serve others with humility, the light of Christ will be revealed.
Lord Jesus, I am completely disarmed by the love and humility you have shown to me. I offer myself again into your hands. Help me to serve as you did. Please fill me afresh with your Spirit, and may your light shine through me that others would come to know you and love you, the most astonishing King of kings and Lord of lords.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:14-15, 17 (NIV)
See also The Noble Endeavour of Serving.