The end was near, and by the end, I mean when Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), and died for the sins of the world. To prepare his disciples now for the cross that would soon follow, “that he had come from God and was going back to God” (John 13:3), Jesus grabbed a towel and began washing his disciples’ feet. Peter, believing it undignified of Jesus to play the servant (because he would think himself undignified if he had done the same), told Jesus to stop, but Jesus corrected him. “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me” (John 13:8); if you are to be like me, Peter, you shall allow me to serve you and “you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:15).
Jesus explained he would soon leave them, and “where I am going you cannot come” (John 13:33). Last words are important words, and none more important than what followed, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Peter missed the last words completely and returned to the first, “Lord, where are you going?” (John 13:36).
Sometimes, I think Jesus chose Peter as a disciple because he would ask the questions all of us are thinking. How often we concern ourselves with where Jesus went or when he is coming back, neglecting the very thing he told us to do in his absence, to love one another. When I was a teenager, I remember the church sanctuary packed on Wednesday evening for a conference on “End Times,” then, the next night, a dozen would show up to feed the hungry at the mission. I’m not throwing stones, I was there Wednesday, not Thursday. We argue at the edges and miss the center, “love one another,” then wonder at the world’s difficulty in recognizing his disciples.
God, Almighty, Powerful, Wonderful, and Wise, You are worthy of all praise. The whole world sings of Your glory. And you got down on your knees and washed my feet. And you got up on a cross and died in my place. Serving and sacrifice.
May I have that same attitude, one of humility and service. One of sacrifice and dying to myself. One of love. May the world know that You are God, my God, because I show them the same love You have shown me.