Have you ever wondered why Jesus wanted to take the disciples` shoes off and wash their feet? It may have seemed strange to the disciples that the one of whom John the Baptist said `One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose` (Luke 3:16) started to undo the dusty shoes of ordinary men. Was Jesus merely demonstrating that this was His leadership style; a servant leadership quite opposite to the understanding and expectation of the religious leaders, and anathema to the Roman way of governing? Or was there something more that Jesus was trying to explain?
I think the clue comes in the discussion with Peter, who was very reluctant to have his feet washed by Jesus. I`ve noticed that many people are rather shy about their feet and don`t like them to be seen or touched, and would almost certainly feel a lot like Peter. The situation of exposing his dirty feet to Jesus clearly made him feel very embarrassed. But Jesus was insistent. In fact he seemed quite annoyed with Peter (John 13:7- 8). Why was it so important for Peter to receive this service?
It occurred to me that Jesus wasn`t just showing His servant heart, but also teaching Peter he needed to face something about himself; his tendency to self sufficiency. The truth Peter had to face was that he desperately needed to receive something from Jesus, but he was reluctant to show his need. Perhaps we think we like receiving from others. Yet how often do we feel vulnerable when we`re given something, especially if it meets a need we had tried to hide, or if we don`t feel we`ve earned it, or if we don`t have the ability to give something back? At Christmas we like to give gifts in return to those who gave us gifts, or issue a return dinner invitation to friends after an evening together. Somehow we don`t want to feel we are in debt to others.
Freely and gratefully receiving isn`t always easy, so Jesus was teaching them how to `just receive`. After all, if they couldn`t receive this small service, how would they be able to receive the enormous gift of Him giving His life for their salvation?
Next time someone gives you a gift or a compliment, or offers you a service, practise gratefully receiving. For if we can`t open our hearts to truly receive small things from friends, how can we, in reality, be open enough to receive big things; full pardon for sin and eternal life from Jesus our Saviour.
Prayer: I ask You, Holy Spirit, to remind me to be a grateful recipient of all the good things that come my way from You, and from my brothers and sisters. I lay down my desire to feel in control by always being the giver and let myself learn how to be the receiver. Lord, I want to truly and fully receive all the benefits of the salvation and healing You`ve won for me at Calvary. I ask it in Jesus` name. Amen.
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