Tuesday, May 23, 2023

           When Peter heard that Jesus wanted to wash his feet, his initial reaction was dismay.  “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (John 13:6b).  And rather quickly, his dismay morphed into denial.  “’No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet’” (John 13:8a).  Based on his own words, Peter seemed to have dug a line in the sand and refused to let Jesus wash his feet.  Not going to happen was Peter’s message!  We can almost see him with his arms crossed and a look of defiance on his face.  We might identify with Peter and maybe even find ourselves sympathizing with him.  It is extraordinary to consider that the Creator would clean feet—anyone’s feet.  And just hours from the cross, Christ would humble Himself to the point of taking both towel and tub to wash the feet of the very men to whom He would entrust the gospel message and the mission of going into all the world.  Unbelievable really!
            We often find ourselves at odds with what the Lord is doing.  We often dig lines and trenches that we refuse to cross or move.  We set limits and boundaries on what we will let the Lord do and how far we will grant Him admission and access to our lives.  We have all behaved like Peter on occasion—flippantly declaring what we will or will not allow to happen and where we will allow the Lord to operate.  We can easily and often absent-mindedly close doors that God has opened and even open doors that God has sealed shut.  We can often confuse our will with His Will and our ways with His Ways. 
            Peter’s denial may have been born from a lack of humility.  Washing feet is a humble activity but allowing one’s feet to be washed requires humility too.  This simple act just hours before the cross may have been Jesus’ way of signaling to the disciples, including Peter, that to enter His Kingdom one has to bow down.  We cannot enter the Kingdom of Christ standing as proud and upright as a peacock.  We have to bend down, even to the level of feet and street, to enter this Kingdom and to have a share in what Christ is doing.  Taking a knee and bending down are never easy.  Knowing what the Lord expects of us is often far easier than signing on to do it.
            Perhaps Peter’s refusal at first was conditioned by wondering what comes next.  He had been with Jesus long enough to know that this act of washing feet was going to lead to something.  Jesus did not waste time and did not trivialize the Father’s work.  This night of washing would surely lead to the dawn of something else.  We can often be hesitant about joining in with what God is doing.  We can often find ourselves struggling to align our time, thoughts and behavior with where we plainly see God at work and hear Him calling us to join with Him.  It can be much easier and simpler to stay where we are or to go only part of the way but not the whole nine yards.  Conditional or even convenient discipleship can be a cancer today that we all have to root out and remove when God comes calling to us.
            Pride could have been a blind spot for Peter.  But when Jesus came to wash, that pride was called out.  Likely, he felt this pride bubbling up inside when he watched the
Lord get closer and closer to his feet.  Who knows how defining that experience might have been for him going forward.  Interestingly, Peter would later write about pride in his first letter.  He wrote, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” (I Peter 5:5c-6).  Maybe this foot-washing melted his remaining pride and prepared him for Kingdom service.  The same can work for us too. 
            Even today, serving the Lord is not always a spotlighted endeavor.  Indeed, the majority of service we offer to the Lord and the cause of the Gospel is humble, low-key and rarely recognized by those around us.  A well-timed note or text, a quiet visit to a hospital room, a verse of Scripture shared in passing rarely gain the notice of the masses or the headlines of any media.  Sharing your faith and speaking about the cross and the resurrection do not usually result in a tweet or YouTube video.  But when Jesus has washed away our pride by washing our feet, we can easily surrender to doing such simple things.  Many faithful mothers, fathers and grandparents have invested in the lives of children with no fanfare or applause.  We have all been touched and encouraged by someone who never sought recognition or reward.
            Rather than denying what we will allow the Lord to do, perhaps, today, we open ourselves to the washing, cleaning and sprucing up that He comes to do.  Perhaps this washing is a prelude to something else.  Or, just maybe, the washing itself is the beginning and end for now.  But later, God moves in us in a different and new way.  It is easy to imagine that Peter never forgot that night when Jesus washed his feet.  He could always feel it, smell it, see it and hear it.  But when the Lord comes to us, we do not easily forget such an encounter.  Has the Lord washed your feet?  Is He washing your feet now?  Is there a long-ago encounter with the Lord that still calls you to something? 
            In his own words, Peter was aghast at the idea that Jesus would do something so lowly, meek and humble.  But the one thing that the Lord comes to do is the one thing that most needs to be done. May we be grateful that the Lord loves us enough to do the hard things and even the surprising things.  And in those hard and surprising things, we learn that we are becoming disciples who love the Lord more than the things of this world.  Have a great Tuesday.  Remember you can worship at any time at youtube.com/FirstBaptistKannapolis.                

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