I’ve been reading the Gospel of John for more than a year. Over and over. Every time I read through it I see truth more clearly or discover a new facet of God’s love.
Recently I read the familiar passage in Chapter 13 that recounts Jesus’ last private moments with his disciples. They celebrated the annual Passover feast, commemorating God’s deliverance of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. And then Jesus washed their feet.
When Jews in first-century Palestine gathered in someone’s home, it was a cultural practice for guests to have their feet washed by a household servant—not by the host himself or another guest. The Lord’s deliberate act of servitude demonstrated the humility of love. But I believe it revealed even more.
Within the first few verses of chapter 13 we find a thumbnail sketch of Jesus’ entire mission. Each detail of the foot-washing—which may have taken roughly thirty minutes—can be matched to another corresponding action during Christ’s thirty or so years on earth.
The sketch begins with verse 3 as Jesus considered that he was soon “returning to God.”
Verse 12 repeats the verb: “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place” (NIV). These bookend references triggered the connection for me.
In my journal, I wrote out what I saw happening and paralleled it to biblical references I’d heard or read elsewhere. It looked like this:
He removed His outer robes He laid aside His heavenly glory
He put on a towel He clothed Himself with humanity
He stooped before them He took the form of a servant
He washed away the dirt He washed away our sin
(It wasn’t His dirt.) (It’s not His sin.)
He put his robes back on He resurrected in His glorified body
He returned to His place He returned to His Father in Heaven
John prefaces his entire account of the Passover meal: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1 NIV).
In “the full extent of his love,” the creator of the universe wrapped a towel around his waist and washed dirt from men’s feet. And in the further extent of that love, he washed the stain of sin from their lives.
Passover recalls the lamb’s blood spread above the doors of Hebrew slave homes. Those who believed and applied the blood turned death away. Those who did not believe did not apply the blood and their firstborn died.
The lamb’s blood saved the slaves from death only if they applied it. Christ’s sacrifice and the spilling of his blood saves us only if we accept it.
What about you this Easter/Passover season? Have you been washed by the blood of the Lamb?
Photo by AJ Spencer