What Did Jesus intend for his disciples to understand by his washing their feet? First, Jesus wanted them to know, as their lord, he was willing to go into the dirty places of their lives and the lives of the world so that he could wash their sins away in a wave of forgiveness. Secondly, We, like the disciples, have an opportunity to expose ourselves of the things we would rather keep hidden, to bring them to God to have the dirt and sin of our lives washed away. Third, and most importantly, Jesus gives us a mandate to live out the example he has given us, that we ought to be servants and find ways to wash the feet of others, forgiving their sins and allowing the vulnerability of removing their shoes as an aspect of deep relationship and trust.
Giving is a sticky subject among most Americans. I recently was intrigued by a woman named Amanda Palmer (famed punk musician) about giving as it related to 'the ask.' You can watch the whole clip from her TED talk here (http://on.ted.com/Amanda).
I love when she states that "asking makes you vulnerable." How true. There is a lot of scripture out there about asking. Ask and you shall receive....whatever you ask I will give....yada yada yada. There is one incident that really changed me as a christian and as a person. It is Jesus' encounter with a blind beggar named Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). I identify with Bartimaeus so much that it sometimes hurts to realize the truth that is unveiled in his story. Bartimaeus was on the outside looking in...with nothing to lose, he cries out of his anguish for help. He asks Jesus to have mercy on him. That is a place on vulnerability. There is an assumption though that Jesus was supposed to know what and how to have mercy on him. When I left the church and felt distant, I remember these cries I used to make from far off...God have mercy on me. But I too, was told to be quiet.
In the story, Jesus comes close to Bartimaeus and asks him "what is it that you want me to do for you?" Jesus makes no assumptions about what it is that Bartimaeus needs. It seems completely obvious to us that he will ask for his sight and that, I think, is part of the beauty of this story. Jesus gets Bartimaeus to name exactly what he is looking for...and he did it through 'the ask.'
Amanda helps reiterate what Bartimaeus and I learned, that "Thru the ask, you connect." Relationships are often built on the vulnerability of 'the ask.' A few days ago, Becky and I celebrated the anniversary of my ask for her to spend the rest of our lives together as husband and wife. It is weird, cuz I was so nervous, I didn't really ever ask the question. It's not easy to ask. We begin to see in 'the ask' that we need help, we need to trust others and we need change. I appreciate Bartimaeus' trust in Jesus to give exactly what he needed AND that Jesus' bold trust to ask Bartimaeus what it is he was looking for. The ask is simply about the courage to be in an authentic relationship without assumptions. What are you asking? and who are you asking?
Praying attention - Pastor Andy
I have pondered some recent aspects of Jesus' life in ministry. I have a standard sermon, all preachers do. One of those sermons is on John 13....It is about washing feet. I do not like this aspect of Jesus' ministry because I hate feet. There I said it. I do not like to talk about feet, I don't like to look at feet, I do not like to touch feet. One day I might get to ask the Almighty why in the world there is such a creation but until then I have to deal with the fact that one of the greatest aspects of Jesus' ministry is to wash the feet of his disciples.
There is great vulnerability and humility exercised in this Scripture. Not on Jesus' part but on the part of the disciples. Imagine, having your friend, your teacher, your Savior bend down and wash your feet. This task of course was usually left to the servants of the house. Not much to mind about that, there is not much of a relationship built between servants and guests. There is also the aspect that in Jesus' day there was no underground plumbing, animals walked the streets and defecated on the paths people would walk, garbage was thrown into the streets....you get the picture. And Jesus insists on washing my feet, I don't think so.
But here is the point. How can Jesus do ministry for people who are unwilling to take off there shoes? This isn't about our own defenses being exposed but rather it is about the share in what Jesus does command. "See, I am giving you an example so that you will have to do as I have done to you." (John 13:15) There is a great humility knowing that Jesus is willing to wash your feet. There is also a great vulnerability to allow Jesus to see all of the stuff that you been carrying from the road that you've been walking. There is a great deal of trust having Jesus see what I have been carrying on my journey and yet Jesus doesn't care....he simply wants to wash my feet. There will come a time when you will get the chance to have your feet washed. It will expose some things you may not like, holes in your socks, lint between your toes, stuff you have carried throughout your journey. Taking off our shoes is allowing God to intervene and wash what needs cleaned.....and this is true even if you don't like feet.