Service isn’t just about the hands; it’s also about the heart. Sometimes service can be down and dirty.
“Jesus, how did you score this sweet deal?” Peter said around a mouthful of lamb and bread.
“Couth up, Peter, and keep your mouth shut while you’re eating!” Andrew told him, throwing a stiff elbow to Peter’s ribs.
“Andrew’s right, Peter,” said Matthew. “But for real, Jesus, how did you swing this? It’s not our usual midweek spread.”
“And what a huge waste of money,” Judas grumbled, having returned to the group after the parade into Jerusalem. No one bothered to question his absence
“Judas, why can’t you enjoy anything without worrying about the money? Haven’t you listened to anything Jesus has tried to teach us?” John asked, reaching for another piece of cheese and hunk of bread.
“Jesus,” Peter said, now with his mouth empty, “you still haven’t told us how you pulled this all off.”
“Haven’t I, Peter?” Jesus paused, taking a slow drink of wine. “Oh well, let’s just say I know who to go to in order to get our needs met.”
The teacher and his followers ate and drank, enjoying the camaraderie they had built over the last three years. The meal in a quiet room was one to be savored after several long and busy days. Many had been healed and listened attentively to Jesus’s teachings, but since coming to Jerusalem the air seemed to pulsate with tension. At some point during the evening, Judas had silently slipped away.
As plates and cups emptied, Jesus dropped out of the conversation. He seemed to withdraw into himself. Finally, he got up from the table. He took off his robe and wrapped a towel around his waist as a servant would.
“Jesus, what are you doing?” Philip gasped.
Without saying a word, Jesus went to the side table where he poured water into a basin. Then he went to each man and gently washed the dust from their tired and weary feet.
“Oh, no, Jesus, not me!” Peter said, pulling his feet away.
“Peter, if I don’t do this, you have no part of me.”
Peter shook his head, while Jesus knelt before him and waited. “But Jesus…” he said as a tear fell and wet his beard.
“It’s up to you, Peter. If you want to be a part of me, if you want to truly follow me, then I must wash your feet.”
Jutting out his feet and lifting his hands, Peter exclaimed, “Then, Lord, wash all of me!”
Placing one foot into the basin and then the other, Jesus chuckled, “Peter, you’ve already been washed; you just need a little cleaning up.”
In a room where you could hear a pin drop, Jesus finished washing the feet of his disciples. He finally put away the towel and basin, then went back to his seat. He looked lovingly at each face, not quite smiling.
“Here’s the deal, guys. We’ve done amazing things together. We’ve also suffered hardships and more than a little torment. As I’ve said before, I wish I could say things are going to get better…but they’re not.
“You’ve called me Teacher, and you’re right. Now listen up, this is the game-changer: if I, your Teacher, am willing to do the most lowly of tasks for you, washing your feet, you should be willing to do the same for each other. I only do what our Heavenly Father tells me to do. I expect no less from you.
“You’re my beloved disciples, but only if you follow my example and do what God tells you to do. You’re no longer your own bosses. If you understand that you’re to stay in your lane, and let Him take the lead, you will be blessed.”
Jesus settled back into his seat and poured himself another cup of wine. He needed to tell them so much more. It was going to be a long night, and the fewer surprises for them, the better.