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Washing Each Others Feet

Holy Thursday

Scriptural Readings: Isaiah 61:1-3A, 6A, 8B-9; Psalm 89:21-22, 25, 27; Revelation 1:5-8; Luke 4:16-21

My dear encountered couples:

Some people find it easy to wash other people’s feet. Others find it hard. Some people find it easy to let others wash their feet for them. Others find that hard. I think Peter was one of those who found it very hard to let someone else wash his feet. I think it embarrassed him and made him feel less a man.

Peter appears to me as having been a big man who took care of his own life, who did his own work, carried out all of his own responsibilities without asking anyone else’s help. If he was ever sick and needed help, I’ll bet he hated it. You know the type. “Can I help you?” someone asks. “No, no, I can take care of it myself. Thank you anyhow.” Are you one of those people? Are you independent and self-sufficient. Do you close the door on all who would like to show you friendship, on those who would like to do things for you, on those who would like to wash your feet?

Many people do. There seems to be some sort of godlike complex in many of us that makes us want to rely on no one but ourselves for anything. We want to make our own money, pay our own bills, cook our own meals, clean our own houses, and take care of our own yards. And if anyone else offers to do it, we say “Thanks, but no thanks.” Or if we do let them, we insist upon paying them.

Then there are those who seem to love letting other people do things for them. They love to sit around and be waited on. To have someone paying their bills, cooking their meals, washing their clothes, and taking care of the house and yard for them -that’s their heaven. They act as if they were born for such a life. Reminds one of Nero of Rome, reclining on his pillowed couch while his dancing girls gathered around him peel his grapes and pop them into his mouth. What a life! What a lazy lout! Jesus seems to be upsetting both lifestyles. He is telling those who want to do everything for themselves to let others do some things for them. “Let others sometimes wash your feet,” Jesus says. He also is telling those who like to be waited on hand and foot to get off their lazy bottoms and do something worthwhile for somebody else. “Get up and do something nice for somebody else once in a while,” Jesus tells them. They are to wash other people’s feet; they are to take a turn peeling someone else’s grapes.

This is how Jesus tried to teach us this lesson: He picked up a towel and tied it around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel. Then he came to Peter, who said, “Lord, you shall never wash my feet!” “If I do not wash you,” Jesus answered, “you will have no share in my heritage.” Peter then allowed Jesus to wash him. “Not only my feet,” Peter said, “but my head and hands as well.”

Peter wasn’t about to risk losing his friendship with Jesus no matter how much the feet washing embarrassed him. Then Jesus said: “Do you understand what I just did for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ and fittingly enough, for that is what I am. But if I washed your feet, then you must wash each other’s feet. As I have done, so you must do.” Jesus wants us to do for each other, and to accept from each other, without payment. Not easy for some of us, is it? But if we don’t, we might end up with no share in the kingdom of God.


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