Thursday 17 April 2014

Bible Book:

“He loved them to the end” (v. 1)

John 13:1-17, 31b-35 Thursday 17 April 2014


This passage describes a last supper that Jesushad with his followers. Unlike the other Gospels, it does notdescribe Jesus teaching them how to eat bread and drink wine as away of sharing in the sacrifice of his body and blood. John 6:48-59 hasalready shown Jesus teaching about those things in public. At thesupper he teaches his closest disciples in private about what itmeans to glorify God and to be glorified by God both as Son of Manand as one of his disciples. For him, it means to love people tothe end (verse 1), even if they fail, deny or betray him. For them,it means the same (verses 34-35).

Foot washing was a social courtesy before thestart of a meal. So in doing it in the middle of a meal Jesus ismaking a point. It is a point about how he must behave if he hascome from God and must go back to God (verse 3), and about how theyare to behave if they are to remain in relationship with him (verse8).

So, what is the point? Jesus makes it in asymbolic action that will leave them with a powerful memory whichthey will only come to understand fully after his crucifixion andresurrection (verse 7). Foot washing was normally performed bysocial inferiors for their superiors, although Jewish law preventedit from being required of Jewish slaves. Yet because of his lovefor them, Jesus, the master, voluntarily did for his servants whatthey would normally do for him; just like the way in which, becauseof his love for people, he voluntarily went to a slave's executionon the Cross. His followers are to do the same (verses 12-17).

But is there more? Does Peter try to stop Jesuswashing his feet because he does not want Jesus to be his inferior,or because he feels that he is already fully clean? There were someearly Christians who believed that their relationship with Jesusmeant that they could not sin (eg 1 John1:8). When Peter discovers that he and the others will fail,deny and even betray Jesus, he goes to the opposite extreme ofassuming that he is completely unclean. But Jesus points out thatthat is not true, either. Despite their failures, Jesus loves themto the end.

To Ponder

  • What would you feel like if you discovered that Jesus waswanting to wash your feet?
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