Today, we're on John 13 (I didn't do a chapter yesterday).
Have you ever had to say goodbye to someone? My most difficult goodbye actually happened with my wife, Susan, before we were married or knew we would be. It was the end of our freshman year of collage, and she was headed home for the summer. I was positive that Susan was the one for me, but she was still trying to decide. I sat in the car and cried so hard I thought my eyes would come out. I just knew it was the last time I would see her.
Jesus' knew he was coming to the end of his time on earth as a man. (v.3) (Note, once again, John's obsession with time, citing it again in 13:1). He's trying to figure out a way to say goodbye that will have a lasting impression. In John 13, he finds 3 ways to do that.
1) He gets up from the table, strips down to his underwear (to display vulnerability), washes everyone's feet (to display humility), and drys them with the towel around his waist (to display complete sacrifice).
You think they ever forgot? We're still talking about it!
And the moral of the story that he leaves is not some abstract lesson, but simply this: "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet." (v.14).
Some churches take that as a literal mandate - an ordinance, in addition to Communion and Baptism. But I see it more as a symbolic lesson. We are supposed to be serve each other with vulnerability, humility, and sacrifice. No job is 'below' me.
2) He completely transforms the Passover meal - THE most important ritual celebration in Jewish life. He re-connects new meaning to it, by making himself the sacrifice, his blood the symbol that would save people from death, his broken body as needed for a transferring of God's judgment. It was revolutionary for Jesus to do such a thing. It was a powerful way to say goodbye, and we're still talking about it to this day.
3) Jesus makes his departure very personal for Peter. By predicting Peter's three-fold denial, Jesus is making one last effort to show Peter that he knows all things. Plus, he is providing Peter with a redemptive opportunity later in John's final statement in chapter 21.
I realized today that Jesus also talks to the small group (foot washing), the masses (through the passover), and the individual (the encounter with Peter) in this triplet of parting acts.
Wow. I think John 13 is now one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. What do you see in these 38 verses?