“Unless I wash you, you will not belong to me.” (John 13:8b NLT)
Have you ever thought about that statement Jesus put to Peter, there in the upper room during Passover? Jesus was about to go to His trials, then to the cross, and He was talking to His disciples about washing feet! Peter didn’t know it, but He was about to learn a valuable lesson about intimacy.
Who performs the act of washing others? For example, let’s consider parents. Parents wash their small children, making sure they are clean all over before dressing. They wash their children’s hands when they get grimy from playing in the dirt; they wipe their noses, they wash their feet, brush their teeth, even wash behind their ears!
Why do parents do this? Because they’re in love with their little ones! They belong to them. And there is nothing more adorable than a child fresh from the bath, running around the house with the delicious feeling of being clean all over. Moms, Dads, Grandparents & caregivers wash their little ones because they need it often; and they want to teach the little tykes how to keep themselves clean. It is a very loving & intimate act.
Jesus wanted Peter to understand intimacy. “Unless I wash you, you will not belong to me.” Peter had previously protested, not wanting his Messiah to actually stoop and clean his grimy feet. “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus gently says, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” Peter protests more strongly, with the agonizing “No! You will never ever wash my feet!” I can almost feel Peter’s sorrow, his confusion, his shame as the King of creation kneels down in front of him and performs this act normally reserved for a household slave. Then, as Jesus looks up at him and says, “Unless I wash you, you will not belong to me”, Peter is thunderstruck. He says a Peter thing: “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” We love Peter, don’t we? He acts just like us lots of times!
The point here is intimacy. Unless we allow Jesus to wash us, we do not belong to Him. But how do we allow Jesus to wash us? First, we have to stand still long enough for Him to do it! Have you ever had to catch your child to put him or her into the bath? When it’s time for Jesus to wash us, we shouldn’t run away from Him. Then, we need to submit to His gentle hands. He knows exactly where we need to be cleaned up. Sometimes we can’t see the dirt; He always can.
How exactly does He wash us? The Scriptures say the Word washes us. “He gave up His life for her (the church) to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s Word. He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish.” (Eph 5:27b-28)
So, when we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us, to admonish us, to encourage us through God’s Word as we apply it to our daily living situations, we get a bath! And as we come away from those times of “washing”, we can have that delicious feeling of being clean all over. Let’s make sure we are bathing every day in God’s Word, shall we?