never say…well, you know | John 13.6-11
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” John 13:6-11 | ESV
Awkward. In the extreme. All of them squirm a bit, but Simon Peter puts his foot down, “Lord, you think YOU are washing MY feet? Think again…” Jesus calmly replied, “You have no idea what I’m doing now, but you’ll get it later.” Peter is insistent, shaking his head. “I’m not getting it ever – read my lips ‘You will NEVER EVER wash my feet. That’s final. End of discussion.” Jesus looks up at him with a smile, “If that’s how you want it, but if I don’t do this washing, it’s a deal breaker – you’re done here.”
Simon Peter uses his remarkable reverse gear, doing a 180 on a dime: “Lord, you missed a spot – and I don’t just need the feet washed – hands, head, torso – they all need attention.” Jesus looks back down, the smile fading as he washes Peter’s feet. “When you’ve taken a bath, you’re good to go, except for occasional attention to the feet; you’re clean from head to toe. And you’re all clean like that – well, not all of you…” He knew the score with Judas and his prompted betrayal – that’s why he said the “not all of you are clean” bit. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Both are needed skills.
Both are an art in themselves.
Both require great humility and self-lessness.
But of the two, receiving is probably the most challenging for most of us.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” And we say, “Amen, Lord.” And then we become quite accomplished givers. Which is wondrous and essential. It’s the whole point of the basin and the towel, yes? It’s the whole point of our thoughts thus far: get up from your place of comfort, divest yourself of your status and privilege, and take up the basin and the towel.
But equally daunting is the task of staying on the couch around that table and letting it happen to you. It might be more blessed to receive, but what enormous grace is required to allow ourselves to be the ones to receive.
Typically receiving will require us to strip off more than will giving.
We have to strip off pride in our own self-sufficiency; we must shed our whole “do-it-yourself” and “pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps” culture. Receiving requires us to admit our need, our vulnerability, and to risk letting you supply that need. Many of us would rather die before asking for help. Like most dogs, we are so reluctant to reveal our pain.
No, I will be the giver, the doer, the provider.
Bring me your tired, your wretched, your poor…and watch me sacrifice for them.
But serve me?
Strip off your dignity and take up the basin and the towel for me?
I won’t let you.
I don’t know what all was driving Peter in his objection to Jesus – but I have a pretty good notion that this is precisely what drives us in closing off our hearts and needs from others.
And in this now and not yet time, we simply don’t have time for such nonsense any more.
How good are you at receiving love and service from others? How are you being challenged to open yourself up to such love and service in this season of your life?
Abba, show me how to receive love and help from others; show me how to lose the pride that would stand in the way of receiving the blessings and love that others would bestow. Show me how to receive the basin and the towel when it’s meant for me. Through Jesus.