When Michael Jordan was still actively playing in the NBA, he said during one of his interviews, “Whatever my team needs to win, I will do it.”
This statement comes to mind today as I reflected on the Gospel of John’s account of the washing of the feet (John 13:1-15). In a similar yet more profound way, that may have been the tenor of Jesus’ message to His disciples when he washed their feet. More than a lesson on humility or servanthood, Jesus may have been trying to bring across a more important truth: His love for them will lead Him to do anything for them —- even wash their grubby feet.
During Jesus’ time, people wore only sandals while walking around the dusty streets of Jerusalem. (The poorer ones were even barefoot!) In other words, the feet of his disciples were not exactly immaculate. Not to mention that Jesus and His disciples were constantly on the move because of the nature of Jesus’ ministry. And the washing of the feet was a task reserved for the lowliest servants. Hence, it was unthinkable for a rabbi and a master like Jesus to wash his disciple’s feet.
What could have led Jesus to prepare the basin of water that night? What could have motivated him to wrap the towel around his waist? What could have urged him to place in his hands the grimy feet of his disciples? Certainly not to impress them. And definitely not simply for hygiene purposes. Most likely to teach them some lessons on humility and servanthood.
But I believe it was more than that…
It was, I believe, to remind them of what his primary driving force in life is: love.
Love that says I am willing to do anything for you. Even the most shameful undertaking. Even the most degrading task. Even the most demeaning act. Whatever it takes to let you know of my love, I am willing to do it.
The washing of the feet on Holy Thursday exclaimed Jesus’ incomparable love for Peter and his brothers. And the cross of Good Friday perfectly punctuated it.
The lesson for the twelve is also a lesson for the millions who have chosen to follow Jesus — yes, including you and me. It is a lesson that must be re-lived especially in moments of confusion, or anxiety or despair. It is a lesson that assures us of the height, depth and width of God’s love for us. It is a lesson that shall carry us through the long and dark nights of our lives until the eventual breaking of the dawn.
The lesson is crystal clear: There is nothing that God won’t do for you, my friend.
Even in the face of insurmountable debts: or a dead-end career; or a deteriorating health; or a collapsing marriage. Now, God may not express his love in the way you expect him to. But He will express it nonetheless. In a far more overwhelming way that will exceed your highest expectations, He definitely will.
So this Holy Thursday, pause and pray. Take stock of your biggest challenges and burdens. And then place them side by side the magnitude of God’s love for you. See them shrink in the face of his reckless and unbounded devotion to you.
Look down to your feet. There. With a basin on the floor and a towel around his waist. That’s Jesus right there. With your feet in his palms.
He looks at you. His lips break into a smile. And He whispers a statement that explodes into an avalanche of warmth and comfort:
“Child, I will do anything for you”.