So Jesus got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:4-5 NLT)
In making plans for the meal that evening, Peter and John had forgotten to arrange for a servant to be present to wash the guests’ dirty feet. Can you imagine the shock and horror the disciples feel when Jesus – their teacher, the Messiah, the Son of God – wearily gets up to do the dirty chore of footwashing they are all too proud to do? While they argue about which one of them is the greatest, Jesus just does the dirty deed himself. If they think washing feet is beneath them, it certainly isn’t something Jesus should have to do.
But something more is going on here. Sometimes a verse of Scripture is as powerful by what it doesn’t say, as by what it does say. What verse 5 doesn’t say is: “… he began to wash the disciples’ feet, except for Judas, who was to betray him.”
Can you imagine the moment? Jesus kneels before Judas with the basin of water in his hands and a towel around his waist. Jesus looks deeply into Judas’ eyes, and Judas realizes Jesus knows what he is about to do! What thoughts race through Judas’ mind at that moment? What emotions explode in Jesus as he gazes into the eyes of the man he knows will cause him to suffer an agonizing death?
None of us has ever faced a greater enemy than Jesus faced at that moment, yet Jesus washed Judas’ filthy feet as lovingly as he had washed the feet of any of the other disciples.
In the next few hours, however, Jesus would give them an even better example of just how far his love was willing to go.
Excerpted from What does it mean to follow Jesus?