John 13 is an extraordinary passage as everyone knows. This account of Jesus washing the Disciple’s feet, releasing Judas to his wicked work and preparing His inner-circle for His departure is filled with rich food for the soul.
“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”” (John 13:6, ESV)
RAF: Peter’s objection might have arisen from several causes. But we must note that he seems not to have objected at Christ’s washing the feet of the others, only when it came to him. Perhaps he thought – “I do not need cleansed like this – I’m not that dirty.” Maybe he was implying he was cleaner than the rest. Who knows but that they had washed their own feet already when they came in? Men hate to own the depth of their own uncleanness. Then again, perhaps the issue was that this was simply too humbling. To have the one he wanted to serve, serve him, was a challenge to his pride. How much we want to have a part in grace – and not to be purely a recipient of it.
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:12-15, ESV)
RAF: True humility does not confuse what we are called to do with who we are. Jesus was not rejecting His position and authority as “Teacher and Lord” – but showing that such positions are not to be thought of as outside the circle of serving. Jesus knew He was called to serve others, but He did not work “for” them per se. He was employed by the Father to serve them. But the people didn’t give Him His marching orders – the Father did. He would serve them as the Father desired, not necessarily as they desired. All in ministry need to find this right balance and order. We serve our people, but we do not work for them or do their bidding. We do the Father’s bidding on their behalf. And it is up to us to search out the Father’s desire in this regard, and use that to govern our service. Otherwise, we will be at the every whim of the people, and fail to serve them in what they need most as the Father sees it. A Baby-sitter or better yet a nanny or governess really fills out this model. Serving the children in raising them, educating them and protecting them – but this is all done as an agent of the parents, not of the children. Thus they forbid and allow as the parents would desire, not the children. This is wonderful paradigm for pastoral ministry.
” After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”” (John 13:21, ESV)
RAF: Jesus was no stoic. The thought of being betrayed by one of His dear 12 troubled Him. Yes, He knew He came to die. Yes, He knew who it was who would betray Him from the beginning (John 6:64). Yes, He was the eternal Son of God and this was His mission from all eternity. And yet, as the word in the original has it – he was disquieted within, disturbed, agitated with an inward commotion. He fully felt the weight of every step on His way to the Cross. It was no light thing to be betrayed. He did not pass it off as if it didn’t matter – it did! Oh how the betrayal added to His sorrow on our behalf. The mystery of the eternally joyful God permitting Himself to endure this species of suffering is beyond us. But make no mistake – He suffered so, so that His compassion and mercy might be absolutely thorough for us. He truly KNOWS our pain. What a blessed Savior He is. Beyond human description.