The gravity of Jesus washing the disciples' feet is lost on us today, I think. Within the United States, we have had a culture of egalitarianism that seems to indicate that social class is passe. We have moved past Jim Crow laws. There is not the social taboo on interracial marriage like there was in the previous generations.
This is not to say that things are perfect. The middle class seems to be shrinking in the United States. We still have racism that occurs in a wide variety of forms. It can be restrictive in ways that keep people from realizing their full potential.
But as we consider first century Palestine, honor would forbid a disciple to allow his teacher to wash his feet. Thus, we have the exchange between Peter and Jesus. It is not that he did not want Jesus to do something nice for him, it is that it made him uncomfortable in the extreme. Peter probably felt that he was at fault for allowing it.
Jesus understands convention and disrupts it. He does this on purpose. His subversive act of washing their feet forces them to look on other people differently.
|I like the perspective of this photo.|
Jesus today forces us to reexamine our hierarchies in society. What does it mean to be Christian?
To serve others develops a dignity of its own. Service is redefined because our Lord washed feet.
If there is service to another human being in which you would draw a line, you might need to re-read today's passage!
Prayer for the day:
God, help me to empty myself of the pride I may take over others.
Help me to serve without reservation your fellow children on earth.
May the humility I develop in Christ be a source of strength that wells up in me like a fountain, until I may encounter others with a deep sense of joy, satisfied that we are significantly connected in Christ. And may I find this true no matter their response to me. Amen.
Photo by Rui Duarte via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.