Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are you washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
– John 13:3-8 (NKJV)
Our scene is set. Jesus, having gathered all of his disciples, begins to do something way out of His character. At least, that’s what Simon Peter thought. You see, Simon Peter is probably thinking, “This is the Son of God! He shouldn’t be washing my feet… I should be washing His.” And that logic is perfectly sound, isn’t it? I mean, if Jesus began washing your feet.. wouldn’t you have reacted the same way? Just as we hold certain people in high esteem (the President, the Queen, the Pope), so did Peter. He couldn’t allow his teacher, his master, to belittle Himself in such a way. However, Jesus thought differently about the situation. He thinks differently about every situation.
For a couple of years in high school, I participated in a speakers group at my local church. My task was to write a 4-6 minute speech, no more or less, include a set amount of Scripture, and memorize the entire thing. This may seem daunting to many, but I happily accepted the challenge. The first year that I participated I chose a topic called, “What is True Love?” I wish I could post the entire speech, but the basic premise was that God is love. He defines what it means, and has shown us in His Word what it looks like. The following year I wrote on a topic entitled, “Teenagers: The Church of Today.” I used the story of Abraham and Isaac as the backbone of my speech.
7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
– Genesis 22:7-8 (NIV)
Abraham was willing to follow God to the point of sacrificing his own son, but I’d like to believe there was more to the story. Isaac must’ve not only obeyed his father, but he must’ve willing gave himself up as a sacrifice to the Lord. That notion of Isaac being selfless enough to give his own life was the main point of my second speech.
I was proud of both speeches and felt that my words meant so much more than I thought. It wasn’t until later on in my life that I realized something extraordinary about the timing of those speeches. I wasn’t just writing them just for the audience.. I was writing them for myself. At those specific moments in my life, I needed to hear those words to better understand who God is. During the time that I wrote on what true love is I was consumed by an unhealthy relationship with my high school girlfriend. I was young, ignorant, and had no idea what it meant to truly love someone the way that God has loved us. As for the speech on teenagers, the selflessness that Isaac displayed in the Bible, and the words that I wrote on how teenagers should follow that example of selfless behavior, spoke to me on an extremely personal level. I am not the most selfless person in the world, and perhaps selfishness is one of my worst traits, but that speech was written at a time that I needed it. Both speeches were written at times in my life that I needed to not only help others… but help myself.
Now, I’d like to think that the timing of it all wasn’t just coincidence. In my eyes, those speeches were gifts from God. He sent them to my mind, and to my heart, at a time that I needed them most. So, it’s true what they say.. God works in mysterious ways.
How does this tie in with the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet? Well, Simon Peter had this misconception of who He was. He saw the Pharisees and thought that his teacher should behave the same way they did, but Jesus thought differently. The Bible says that Jesus came to serve, not to be served. In truth, Jesus worked in mysterious ways. He didn’t act, and behave the way that people thought a “savior” should. We often think of Him, and define Him by human standards, but the truth is that He operates on His own understanding. So, when bad things come your way, don’t think that God just allows it to happen. Just as I was unaware of how much I needed those speeches, God will subtly work in your life. It may take you a while to see His hand, but it’s always there.
Do you have an example of how God worked in your life, as He did mine? If so, please share in the comments below!