“WHY SHOULD I LET YOU WASH MY FEET?” (Jn 13:1-15): 20 March 2008 (Holy Thursday)
It’s an unforgettable scene: After supper, our Lord himself rises from the table and–to the horror of his disciples–washes their feet. All are stunned speechless with, as usual, the exception of Peter.
Peter protests. “You shall never wash my feet!” he declares–only to take it back almost in the same breath and to beg the Lord to wash his entire self (“Not only my feet, but also my hands and head!”) when he realizes the consequences of refusing the Lord.
But why should I let you wash my feet, Lord?
First of all, you are my Lord, so why should you even place yourself at my feet? It is I who should be at your feet. Isn’t there something very wrong with this picture?
Besides, my feet have been everywhere; they’ve taken me to many places I shouldn’t even have seen. My feet have been soiled by the earth, smeared with the mud and dust of my sin. See, they are bruised and calloused from all my countless wanderings. They are scarred with all those many times I’ve lost my way or deliberately detoured even if I knew that doing so would only lead me to dead ends.
Look, these feet you want to take in your hands–they have trampled on the very gifts you have given me. I didn’t know better, and got carried away with the music. I’ve taken your gifts for granted, and lost in the wild dancing, I’ve tossed them recklessly away when I should have held them close, nursed them, and used them to serve you and your people.
And this is the most important reason of all: At my worst self, I’ve allowed my feet to trample on people. I wish I could say I always didn’t know better, but you know there were times I understood all too well, but I did it still, hurting others out of weakness or wickedness. My feet are stained with the blood of persons whose hearts I have broken.
So you see, Lord, you have no business washing my feet. And I have no business letting you even touch them!
But as you did to your disciples that last sad evening before you died, you silently kneel before me and tenderly take my feet into your hands. As you do so, I realize that it is not only an act of the greatest humility on your part, but also an act of the deepest intimacy between us. Without a word, but full of love, you wash my feet.
You caress the scars of my feet, obtained from all my travels and travails. You smile as you recognize each scar and remember each story because that’s right, you were there with me in all those journeys.
You wash away the grime and dirt of all the places they’ve taken me to, and in doing so, you once again grant me your forgiveness and offer me yet another chance in an endless series of second chances you’ve given me all my life.
You scrub my feet to remove the stain of people’s blood, and I hear you reading their names as though in absolution. Hearing their names, I somehow also realize there and then that the stain of your own blood is mingled with theirs, for I have also trampled on your heart.
Your towel turns dark from the dirt you wipe off my feet and from the sin and guilt you cleanse from my soul. No one needs to tell me: Washing my feet has healed me and changed me.
Then smiling, you, my Feet-Washer God, rise and hand me the towel.
“Now,” you say, “go, and do the same.”
Here’s a Quick Question for you: “What would make it most difficult for you to let the Lord wash your feet? Why?” Think about it, and share a thought, a feeling, or a question.
(image: Washing of the Feet)