After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel wrapped around him. — John 13:5
Can you imagine what that clean water that was poured into that basin probably looked like when Jesus was finished washing those feet? I wonder what the towel looked like. The clean water became dirty. The perfectly white towel probably had slightly dark stains by the time he was done. When Jesus was finished, the disciples were clean…Jesus was dirty.
Thus was the picture of what He was about to do for us on the cross. The perfectly clear water went up on the cross. The clean white towel hung there naked for you and me. At noon on Good Friday, Jesus started cleaning feet and power-washing souls. He made himself dirty to make me clean. He took on every person’s sin…made a way for us to be reconciled to himself. He did this until it was accomplished at 3:00. Then He died…he made the payment for all that sin.
Here is what is interesting to me; Peter resisted the foot washing (John 13:6). Maybe Peter thought that he was being “reverent.” Maybe Peter was saying “I am nothing in your presence, Lord…I don’t deserve to have you wash my feet!” To me, this actually sounds like a pretty good reason. To me, it actually sounds like Peter is doing better than the other disciples who just sat there and let Jesus wash their nasty feet.
Or, was Peter robbing himself of a blessing and a chance to experience Jesus in a new and profound way? Maybe each of those other disciples fell in love with the Lord even more that day! Maybe they went a little deeper in their walk with Jesus because they said in their hearts “if my Lord will do this for me…I will devote the rest of my life to him! There is no God like my God!” Maybe Peter’s “religious” thinking that God could never operate in this manner robbed him of something beautiful that the other disciples got to experience.
I am trying my best to let God out of my box. I have been to just about every denomination of church that exists. Every denomination seems to have their set way that God is to be “experienced.” One church has basically decided he can only be experienced through communion. Another has decided he can only be experienced through piano and singing out of hymnbooks. Another has decided he can only be experienced through loud rock music and lights. Some have decided God must be “revered” and there should be only sitting up straight and silence in church (definitely none of that clapping). One denomination says “you must only worship on Saturday, for it is the true Sabbath Day.“ Another says, “no, we must give God the first day of the week…Sunday!“ Some say we must only show up to church in our “Sunday best.” Others have said “come just as you are, Jesus doesn’t care if you wear flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt.” Some say baptism is the key. Others say being “filled with the Holy Ghost” is the key. Some believe we experience him through the life-long process of sanctification. Others believe sanctification is a one-time deal that can happen in an instant. Whew! There’s a lot of different schools of thought out there!
Check out the denominations within the twelve disciples at this point in time. Had they separated right then, Peter would have had his own denomination. At the other churches, there would have been feet being washed and humility being preached when the disciples talked about the day the Lord Jesus Christ washed their feet. At Peter’s church, the message would go “we could NEVER allow Jesus to do something like that. He is holy…we aren’t. We must never allow a Holy Jesus to come down to our level like that…we are simply not worthy!”
But, isn’t that the point? Jesus came down to our level and made himself like us so that he could reconcile us to himself. All he really wants is relationship with us! He did all this different stuff to let us know that he loves us and simply wants us to love him back. As much as he hated religious rituals, shouldn’t we at least be open to the fact that he might work in a way that makes us uncomfortable? Peter was uncomfortable…but I guarantee you he reached a point in his life where that foot washing experience was really special to him. After all, Jesus said “If I don’t wash your feet…you have no part with me!“(John 13:8) I guarantee you later in Peter’s life he understood that experience just like Jesus said he would in verse 7. It opened up the door for Peter to love Jesus even more.
I believe we have a modern day example in the Joe Nelms “Nascar prayer.” If you type in “Joe Nelms Nascar prayer” on YouTube, it will come right up. The first time I saw it I thought “how inappropriate!” Then, I read comments by people who did not know God, nor claim to know God. Many of them said things like “If church was more like THAT…I’d go!” Others said “THAT is what gives ‘Christianity’ a bad name!” One said “now THAT’s how you pray!” Another said “Joe Nelms just took the name of the Lord in vain!”
I closed my heart off so quickly to his prayer. I was in the “that was irreverent” group…God could NEVER be experience in THAT! But, after reading that some people enjoyed it…I listened again. This time, I just put myself in that Nascar crowd as unbeliever who thought God was really impersonal and really far away. I’ve been to Talladega before…I know that those people LIVE for that stuff! Then, I heard the genuine excitement in Joe’s voice. He was sincerely fired up…somewhere in the middle of that prayer, I felt God! I realized that God was all over that prayer. Almost 3 million people have heard that prayer…what if 100,000 of those people come to faith because Pastor Joe Nelms actually made God accessible to that crowd? What if it was just one? What if they had their feet washed and experienced Jesus while others said “you’ll NEVER wash MY feet!”
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: If God wants to pour out his love, and pour that love out on ME, why should I only allow him to do it at certain times and in certain ways? What if I’ve missed out on blessing after blessing because I thought that Jesus would “never do it that way?” Looking back…I’ve limited him. I’ve put him in a box and let religious people convince me that he only does certain things in certain ways.
Lord, help me break free from all the religion I‘ve been taught in many, many different churches. I only want to know you…the REAL you!
Boogity, boogity, boogity…Amen!