Of all the Holy Week services, this is the most intimate. Here, we have a scene so familiar from our own experience; we can identify with Jesus and his disciples in these moments. Food and fellowship, good bread and wine, time spent together at the end of the working day.
It is also true, however, we would be taken aback by the host’s insistence on washing our feet. We like to keep our intimacy well under control. Sharing a meal is one thing but allowing someone to touch your feet! Feet are personal – hands off.
So Jesus catches us out again. He offers to come close, to wash away the dust that clouds our vision and weighs down our hearts. We want him to be close, but we want to control what that closeness will be like – not the best basis for relationship.
Loving is about being close, about achieving intimacy. It involves risk, moving beyond where we are in this moment. Love has to be experienced. Coming to know we are loved involves not just words but actions, real moments of kindness. A hug and a kiss can speak volumes. But foot washing?
Foot washing it is, because in that action we uncover another truth. There was intentionality about Jesus’ choice. Washing feet revealed the humble side of intimacy. The desire to comfort and please the other, to take time to raise up the one we love though simple acts of service. Jesus’ love is disinterested (no strings attached.) It is freely given so it may set the other free.
What a meal that supper must have been. How much closer they felt to each other. It was a new world that night. The events about to crowd upon them had not yet occurred. But on this night, they were together, loved just the way they were.
Come join them.
The Rev. Susan N. Eaves