…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:4-8)
Years ago I was at a weekend camp with kids and leaders from my community. My job for the weekend was to make sure all of the leaders, who were there with their high school friends, had everything they needed for a fruitful and successful experience. Just before our main meeting on Saturday night, one of our leaders came to me with a dilemma. His cabin and another cabin of guys, from a rival high school, had been in conflict all weekend, several times being on the verge of violence. His dilemma was that during the free time, just before our evening meeting, some kids from the other cabin had come in and vandalized his cabin. His fear was that if the guys in his cabin went up after the meeting and saw what the other cabin had done, there was sure to be a fight. He wondered if I might be able to go up during the meeting and take care of whatever damage might have been inflicted. So after making sure everyone was in the meeting and taking care of a couple of more quick requests, I headed up to survey the damage.
As soon as I walked in the door I couldn’t believe my eyes…or nose. What these guys had done was come in and take a crap right in the middle of the floor of their rival cabin. And not only that, they had taken the excrement and spread it all over the walls. When I walked into the bathroom, I could quickly see that they had done the same thing there as well; spreading the nastiness all over those walls too. It didn’t take long before I realized exactly what I had to do. While the entire camp sat in club listening to the incredible story of what Jesus had done on the Cross, I would be on my hands and knees cleaning this incredibly nasty mess off the floors and walls. I must admit that, as I began the process, I was not pleased—and that’s putting it mildly.
So what do you do? You get over it, you roll up your sleeves, and you get to work. It wasn’t until about half way through the process that I was in a state to hear anything other than my anger and frustration. But as I continued on, I began to realize that God was right there in the midst of it all. This is exactly where Jesus would be; just as he was when we bent down to wash the disciple’s dirty feet—why in the world would Almighty God stoop that low? Only because of Love. As a matter of fact that was not all, God had something more to say to me. “You know that the kids that did this are listening to the story of my great love for them right now don’t you? You see what you are doing right there, cleaning that crap off of everything? That’s what I’m doing for them right now—even as they hear the story of my Passion. I am washing them. I’m cleaning their filth and their stench and their nastiness with my very own hands; with my very own blood. And you know what else? I did the same thing for you. You were exactly like them; covered in your own sin and filth and nastiness. I got my hands involved in your shit, I washed you clean, I made you whole.” And before I knew it, tears were streaming down my cheeks…tears of joy, tears of gratitude, tears of recognition of the depths of His amazing love…tears of peace. I, indeed, had been washed as white as snow by the loving hands—and blood—of my Creator. Only because of Love. Thanks be to God!!!
P.S. I really haven’t ever told people this story before. It is something that has kind of been between me and God up until now. I think that’s because, for a long time, my telling of it would’ve been mostly about me…and now it seems obvious to me that it’s ALL about Him.