(Inspired by John 13: 2-20)
The sun had set, and Rock was finishing putting all of the food on the tables for the Passover meal when the door to the upper room opened, and in walked John leading Jesus and the other disciples. As they entered, Rock hurried over to the basin and pitcher of water resting on a table by the door.
“We have prepared the urchatz here,” he announced. Each guest took turns holding their hands over the basin while Rock poured water over them. When everyone had completed the cleansing ceremony, the big fisherman directed them to the tables.
“Lord, You will sit here and be our host tonight,” Rock announced. “The rest of you find a place. As everyone made their way to the low tables, John closed the door against the cool night air.
“John,” the Teacher called, “do you see Elijah?”
John laughed and said, “Lord, we usually look for Elijah at the end of the meal.”
“Look for him now,” Jesus returned.
The young disciple reopened the door, made a pretense of looking around, and turned back to report. “Elijah hasn’t come tonight,” he said with a smile.
Many of the disciples laughed at John’s words, remembering the times in their youth when they had been the youngest child in the family and had been asked to perform the same tradition.
“That’s because he already came,” Jesus answered emphatically.
Suddenly everyone was silent and looked questioningly at the Lord.
“Elijah has already come,” the Teacher repeated sadly, “and they did to him whatever they wished.”
“Are you talking about John the Baptizer, Lord?” John asked as he moved to his place beside Jesus. “Is that who you’re talking about?”
“Are you saying that the Baptizer was Elijah who is to come?” Philip questioned.
“If you’re willing to accept it,” Jesus answered, “yes, he was.”
As they thought about this announcement, pitchers were passed around, and each disciple poured himself the first cup of wine to begin the Passover. Jesus lifted His cup and gave the traditional blessing, then they all drank.
“Lord,” Thomas asked as the food was being passed, “Elijah who is to come is the great one who prepares the way for the Messiah. How could the Baptizer have been him? I mean…they killed him! That’s not the way it’s supposed to happen!”
Judas snorted under his breath at Thomas’s words.
“Thomas, the Father works all things according to the council of His will,” Jesus returned. “The Evil One can try to stop it, but God always accomplishes what He wants. Even now the Father has given all things into My hands.” Looking across the table, Jesus stared straight at Judas and repeated, “All things.
“I have come from God, and now I am going back to God, but there are a few things that I must do first.”
As soon as He said this, Jesus rose from the table and walked over to the pitcher and basin by the door. The Teacher took off his outer robe and tied the large towel around His waist. Carrying the pitcher and the basin, Jesus knelt behind Nathaniel the son of Talmai as he reclined at the table with his feet extended behind him. Jesus removed his dirty sandals and began to wash the disciple’s feet with water from the basin. Nathaniel, as well as the others, stared dumbfounded at their Lord. Carefully, thoroughly, even lovingly, Jesus took His time to wash the nasty, smelly feet of each disciple, working his way around the table.
“Why are you doing this, Lord?” Philip asked what they were all thinking.
“Because your feet are dirty,” Jesus returned matter-of-factly as He removed Judas’s sandals and gently began to wash the traitor’s feet.
“We messed up,” John whispered to Rock. “This is embarrassing! We should have hired a servant to wash everyone’s feet when we came in.”
“We didn’t have enough money for that,” Rock hissed back. “It was going to have to be me or you…and I wasn’t going to wash their stinkin’ feet! I figured that if they wanted clean feet, they could wash their own.”
“I guess the Teacher doesn’t see it that way,” John returned.
By the time Jesus arrived at Rock’s feet, the ashamed disciple rolled over to face the Lord and pulled his feet up. “Do you intend to wash MY feet?” Rock asked with concern.
“You don’t understand what I’m doing right now,” Jesus answered, “but you will later.”
“You are my LORD!” Rock shot back with feeling. “You will never wash my feet!”
At this outburst Jesus sat back on His heels and looked the disciple straight in the eyes. “If I do not wash you,” the Teacher said with grave seriousness, “then you have no part with Me.”
Rock’s mouth dropped open when he heard these words and tears began to form in his eyes. Shoving his feet in front of Jesus, he said earnestly, “Wash me, Lord! Wash my feet, my hands, my head…wash all of me!”
As the Teacher removed Rock’s sandals, He said, “If you’ve had a bath, you only need to wash your feet to be completely clean, and you are clean.” As He said these last four words, Jesus looked around at all of the disciples. When His eyes rested on Judas, the Lord added, “…but not all of you.”
After He had completed His task, Jesus replaced the pitcher and basin, put His robe back on, and went back to His place at the table. “Do you know what I have done for you?” He asked.
This question was met with blank stares.
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you’re right, for that’s who I am. If then, I, your Teacher and Lord, washed your feet, you also ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example that you should do as I’ve done.” As Jesus said these words, most of the eyes in the room dropped toward the table. John and Rock looked at each other, feeling the shame of their pride.
“I’m telling you the truth—the absolute truth,” Jesus began again, “a servant is not greater than his master; neither is the one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. Whatever you see your Master doing is what you should be doing. And the things you are learning about the life of the One Who sends you out is how you should be living your life. If you understand the words I’m saying to you, the real blessing comes when you actually put them into practice.
“I’m not speaking to all of you,” the Teacher continued. “Each of you claims to be My follower, but I know the ones who are Mine. What is happening right now is a fulfillment of the scripture that says, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’”
The stunned silence engulfed the room. Looking around at one another, the disciples seemed at a loss for words at the shocking revelation.
“Things have changed,” Jesus said in answer to their unasked questions. “From now on, I am telling you the things that will happen before they come to pass so that when these difficult things occur, those of you who are Mine may still believe that I Am.
“There is so much more to what will happen from now on than each of you realize. I’m telling you the truth—the absolute truth. When I send you out, those who receive you will actually be receiving Me. And not only that, but whoever receives Me is also receiving Him Who sent Me. You will be taking the Father and Me with you wherever you go, and We will be revealing Ourselves through you.”
By Alan W. Harris