Be a Part, Do Your Part

If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing...So, if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet.”  (John 13:8)

As I  parent I hear myself saying, “Just watch me. I can explain, but just watch for a minute and you’ll get it.” Likewise, as a daughter, I find myself doing things just as my mom did them -- because I saw her do it over and over again. Wipe the counters. Pull the sheets tight. Clean as you go. Smile. Hug. She demonstrated these lessons day by day by her example. I watched and learned.

Jesus taught by example, too. In His final hours on earth He wanted his best buds to watch and learn.

Right before a major holiday Jesus is having dinner with his best friends: the small group of men he’d invested a lot of time and energy in. It is a special time for them to share before He leaves the Earth. It is also a special time in Jewish culture -- the Passover Feast. They are preparing to celebrate together and to remember the time the Jews were saved, because death passed right over all those who marked their homes with the blood of a sacrificed animal. 

Knowing His time left with this group is limited Jesus chooses to show them an important example while they are gathered, to demonstrate a crucial principle they can consider long after He’s gone. He takes off His robe, puts on an apron, and begins to wash everyone’s feet. As Peter protests out of respect for Jesus, Jesus responds, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be a part of what I’m doing.” Whoa! Of course Peter wants to be a part of all Jesus is about! He totally wants to join Jesus in every endeavor, so Peter lets Jesus continue. He gives Him his dirty feet and submits to a washing. 

Lesson 1. We have to let Him wash us. We need to yield, submit, allow Him to cleanse us. We need it.

Jesus doesn’t stop teaching there; He continues on. “If I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet.” Yes, He is not just interested in the good of His select small group. He’s interested in all of creation. He intends for everyone to be cleansed so that all people can participate in all the good He’s doing. He doesn’t want anyone left out of His blessings galore, so He tells us to follow His lead and to “share the love.” 

Lesson 2. You and I must now wash each other’s feet. We are called to serve others as Jesus demonstrated -- in the nitty gritty. On our knees, with a rag, perhaps, doing the dirty work. 

Jesus has one final word, “If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it -- and live a blessed life.” When we kneel, wash, get our hands down in all the dirt around us, we live a blessed life. In reaching out and serving we are satisfied, fulfilled, content, and blessed. Blessings flow not only through hands that serve, but to those same hands. 

Lesson 3. In kneeling down to serve others, we will be raised up like Jesus. We will receive a blessed life as we seek daily to bless others. Thanks be to God! 

For Reflection


  • Do I want to be a part of what God’s doing? Am I convinced, as Peter was, of His compelling good/beauty/mission/love?
  • In what areas am I resisting God’s attempts to cleanse me?
  • How can I serve others more whole-heartedly? 
  • Which of my friends or neighbors is God calling me to reach out to during this difficult time of Covid-19? What can I do to help them?



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