Day 18: Washing
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet. John 13:3-5
After taking the first cup, the hostess brings a towel and bowl of water for washing the hands. Water is ceremonially poured over the hands and dried with the towel, less as a physical cleaning, and more of an acknowledgement of the need for a spiritual cleansing. There were many rituals of hand washing which had developed during Jesus’ time and it is thought that some of this transferred over to the Passover observance, although it was not part of what God prescribed in Exodus 12 or the laws that followed.
It may well be at this point in the Seder that Jesus took the towel and the basin and began to wash the feet of his disciples. While there was certainly some literal dirt being removed, he quickly moved from the physicality of his act to its spiritual meaning. It is noteworthy that the Seder, in addition to being a ritual ceremony, is a teaching time (as we will delve into more in the future). Jesus was using this opportunity to demonstrate to his disciples some important lessons.
One lesson was the humility necessary for the kingdom kind of leadership he ordained. They had just been quibbling about their position in the pecking order, and he was demonstrating that the required position was on their knees, laying aside their robe of authority, and serving each other. The second lesson was that of spiritual cleansing. When we have been bathed (cleansed under that blood of redemption), going forward we would still require washing away the filth we encounter in life, but we would not need to fully re-bathe—be re-redeemed (John 13:10).
• Jesus’ confidence in his position is what gave him the willingness to humble himself. What role does insecurity play in your pride?
• On a scale of 1 (little) to 5 (great) how do you rate yourself in sensitivity to your need to wash away the filth of the world that has attached to you?
• Is it something you regularly do?
Lord, you of all people were surely exempt from being humble, yet you took on the role of a servant. It flies in the face of my nature. Make me more like you in kneeling and serving. And move on my heart to seek your cleansing.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries