[I have set you an example]
I had a painful lesson last Thursday. As I was out power washing in flip flops, I shot myself in the foot. This isn’t an idiom. I litterally shot myself in the foot.
Let me tell ya, this was a pain that I will not quickly forget, however, it did spark this piece, so God worked it for good. That’s what He does. (Romans 8:28)
That’s the thing isn’t it? Pain is a great teacher. We respond to pain. As C.S. Lewis put it, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
A Visual and Auditory Lesson
According to Wikipedia there’s a lack of evidence to support that identifying a student’s learning style produces better outcomes. Wikipedia also states that students appear to benefit from both auditory and visual teaching techniques. Jesus incorporated both.
When Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, this wasn’t just symbolism for things to come, it was also a visual and auditory lesson.
After Jesus washed His disciples feet He said this to them: Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
What was this example that Jesus was setting for them?
Jesus had shown them that they were to humbly serve one another with selfless love. He was also showing them the importance of being cleansed from daily sin.
Did they understand what Jesus was showing them?
They may have grasped the lesson to a point, but they wouldn’t receive the Holy Spirit until after Jesus death and resurrection. Then the Spirit of God would lead them in all truth. (John 14:15-17 , 1 Corinthians 2:14 )
The back and forth commentary between Jesus and Peter gives us our clue that Peter didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. Teachers didn’t wash their disciples feet, so when Jesus came to wash Peter’s feet, Peter was looking at things from a worldly point of view. His response to Jesus was this: “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
I bet Peter was quite put off by this idea. This wasn’t the way that things were done! Jesus response to Peter? “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter then said, “No, you shall never wash my feet.”
We must be Powerwashed!
Jesus would again gently respond to Peter saying, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Earnestly wanting all that Jesus has to offer, Peter replied, “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
We know that when Jesus was giving all the disciples this lesson in humility Peter couldn’t see his pride. However, it would be revealed when he denied his Lord.
Jesus had told Peter that when the rooster crowed He would deny knowing Him three times. Peter’s response to Jesus was this: “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” But Peter was wrong. He did deny Jesus, and in his grief he wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62) Revelation can be very painful.
“A Person who has had a Bath Need only to wash their Feet.”
When Peter eagerly desired to be completely cleansed, Jesus explained that those who’ve already been saved (bathed) need only to wash what has become dirty. (John 13:10) In this case Jesus used the washing of feet as His visual example.
Because Jesus, and His disciples, walked the earth in sandals, this meant that their feet would become unclean. Of course Jesus Himself never sinned, but as our Teacher and Lord He humbled Himself to be our example and Savior. (Philippians 2:8)
As much as I hate to admit it, when I powerwashed my foot it was because my feet had become dirty. As I was powerwashing the pavement I noticed my dirty feet, and it momentarily slipped my mind that I was using a powerwasher, not a regular hose, so I aimed at my foot. (*Blush*) I did realize my error at the last second, but it was too late. As my mind was saying, “Nooooo!” I was shooting myself in the foot. (Ouch!)
I sat on the pavement rubbing my painful foot for a while, then I finally limped into the house and told Andrew what had happened. Well, sort of… I left out the crucial detail of how it happened. (Yeah that was definitely pride!) I was so embarrassed. I just kept saying that I felt so stupid, but Andrew was kind enough to keep telling me that it was just an accident. (Yes, technically it was an accident, but to me it was a pretty dumb accident.)
We’ll Still Make our Mistakes
Because God the Father put all things under Jesus power (including the authority to forgive sins), when we accept Jesus, we’re essentially powerwashed. Our past sins are forgiven and we’re washed white as snow, but this doesn’t mean that we won’t sin. (Isaiah 1:18)
We have a lot to learn, and our bodies are weak. (Matthew 26:41) Nevertheless, when we do make our mistakes we can learn and grow from them as we turn away from our sin.
We must also wash each others feet.
We all fall short of the glory of God, so we’re all going to shoot ourselves in the foot from time to time. It not only requires humility to ask for forgiveness, but it also requires humility to forgive one another.
God never changes, so Jesus never flip flops. Unlike politians who may reverse their policies, God’s promises remain. Once powerwashed one need only wash their feet and the feet of others.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”