“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
O Lord, how I identify with Peter. How can You possibly kneel before me, reaching out to wash my feet? This is me – the one who is unworthy to undo the strap on Your sandals. I could not even aspire in my imagination to wash Your feet – unless, like the woman we watched, it was with my tears of guilt and shame and sorrow. Even that would be too much for how could I even touch You with such tears. I might only hope with David that they would be stored somewhere in a bottle for You to see one day.
And yet, and yet, I do need to be washed by You – for who else could wash away the sin-shamed stains that so disfigure my spirit? And so I begin to realise that Your washing has to be individual and personal and intimate for these are my sins and I need to be cleansed and set free. Here is the wonder of it all – You have called me individually, Your word has spoken to me in a way that is particular and specific to me and, as an individual, I have responded to You and placed my life in Your hands. It is this You tell me that, through the Cross, has cleansed me and made me acceptable to the Father.
But now Lord what is this washing of the feet? It is not the washing of salvation but the cleansing away of the travel stains and dirt picked up on the journey. It is not a washing of the spirit for that You have already done – it is a washing of the soul so that nothing sticks to me that might mar my life and ministry. For once I have been saved I do not need salvation again – just a regular washing away by You of the grime I have picked up, cleansing me and setting me free under the glorious cover of the eternal salvation that You have already conferred upon me.
You have already cleansed my whole person and now You seek to cleanse me day by day from the stains that come from life in the world. But still – kneeling before me? Lord what are You doing …. for this is so personal and intimate, so embarrassing and yet … so gentle and loving and affirming and wonderful …. and You are smiling up at me all the time. I understand now that no one else can do this to me or for me – only You. And this is Your ongoing service of love to me for the rest of my life here.
So I come Lord Jesus – dare I turn away!
There is no one as special and as wonderful as You! I thought I knew it – but again I catch another glimpse beyond the cloud.
(Picture: Christ washing Peter’s feet – Ford Madox Brown)