BY Debbie Eaton
Text: John 13:1-38
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
– John 13:35, ESV
I love to engage in conversation, and it is often at the table, whether in our own kitchens or favorite restaurants, that we learn so much about one another. It is where relationships deepen, where tears are shed, where we laugh so hard it leaves our faces and bellies sore. The table is—ideally—a safe place to share your hopes and be yourself.
That’s what makes what is about to happen here so painfully difficult. Imagine someone around your table has betrayed or hurt you—a person you would not expect, a person who calls you “friend.” It’s an unexpected blow that punctures deep into the heart and causes anguish and pain. I know because I’ve felt that kind of betrayal and hurt. For me, it resulted in vast insecurity, grief, anger, days of tears, and an increased caution with people.
Jesus, however, reacted much differently.
In this passage, the disciples are gathered in the Upper Room for the Feast of Passover. They have journeyed together for three years and have had countless conversations. They know each other well – really well. Jesus knew these were His final hours and He knew the condition of each heart that sat around the table. The Savior would once again break tradition with an act that demonstrates what it means to serve, forgive, love and sacrifice.
“He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” – John 13:4-5
Jesus humbly got on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples—an act only done by a household servant. The dynamics in the room were intense. Peter was uncomfortable with Jesus washing his feet. Judas would soon betray not only Jesus, but the other eleven men. None of this was a surprise to Jesus. So with human touch and words of truth, He demonstrated what it is to serve, value, honor and love.
What the enemy believed would end Christ’s mission was really a promotion of God’s plan.
Jesus knows what you will do to hurt, deny or betray Him, and yet He will always love you unconditionally and will forgive when you ask for it. Through His love and forgiveness, we can humbly serve another because it shifts our view from self to others—an act of love.
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35, NLT
As we gather around a table with others, we must remember that relationships are messy and the actions of others might hurt us. The very act of washing another’s feet embodies the healing power that turns hurt, betrayal and denial into compassion, empathy and love. Only Jesus can turn hurt to love. And when He does, the world takes notice.
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts,
there can be no more hurt, only more love.”
– Mother Teresa