After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Why was Peter so incredulous that Jesus should wash his feet? It was such a lowly task, after all, and certainly something beneath the Son of God. Sometimes Peter was just quick to speak before he realized what he was saying. But maybe in this moment it was something like, “That’s my mess. Why should You be the one to clean it up?” But isn’t that what God has been doing ever since Adam made the first mess in the Garden of Eden? Cleaning up what is dirty. Repairing what is broken. Making new what is tainted.
It is easy to think of our world as unworthy of the Lord of all bowing low and getting involved in the mess of sin. It is easy to think of our own individual selves as unworthy of Jesus intervening in our own personal sins, mistakes, and failures. It may be our first instinct to refuse to allow Jesus that up-close view and that personal touch upon what has made us dirty. But Jesus is willing to do all of that. He chooses to do that. The truth is, we need the kind of cleansing that only Jesus can offer.
What that involves is first an acknowledgement of our own sinfulness and need for cleansing. It involves humility. It involves submission to Jesus in that moment. It is a choice we have whether to pull our feet away and say, “No, Lord, You will never do that for me,” or whether to surrender and allow Jesus to do His work that He came to do. Salvation and forgiveness and redemption are not easy tasks. And maybe we are unworthy recipients of such things. But God, in His abundant love and mercy, offers us that full cleansing at great cost to Himself. How can we stubbornly refuse it when He will graciously give it so freely?