A Lenten reflection and prayer guide to prepare our hearts and minds for Holy Week. Curated by The Park Forum.
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
The Washing of the Disciples’ Feet (an excerpt) | by Richard C.H. Lenski
Some would call the act symbolical; but this is contradicted by Jesus himself (in verse 15). His act was an example; it was not staged as a symbol, it was performed as an actual service upon feet that actually needed washing.
John endeavors to impress upon our minds the contrasts which make the last acts of Jesus stand out with love for the disciples—even in these last hours Jesus forgets himself and devotes all his efforts to them.
Sometimes this is understood rather superficially as though Jesus says, “Unless I wash thy feet, thou hast no part with me.” If, then, it seems strange that Jesus makes the salvation of Peter depend on his washing Peter’s feet, the remark is added that Peter’s refusal to have his feet washed by Jesus is rank disobedience, and persistence in this disobedience would exclude Peter from salvation. Yet the reply of Jesus says nothing about washing the feet of Peter and nothing about disobedience on Peter’s part.
Peter will not accept the self-humiliation of Jesus. Yet by thus contending for the Lord’s greatness, which he will not have marred, he is really asserting his own greatness over against Jesus, as one who will not learn humility from the example Jesus is now setting him.
Thus by seemingly contending for the greatness of Jesus, Peter is destroying this greatness and is thus separating himself from Jesus. In other words, by his refusal to have Jesus wash his feet, Peter repudiates the Lord as he is and demands a Lord who is otherwise.
Jesus makes Peter’s having part with him depend, not on anything Peter does, but on something Jesus does for Peter: “unless I wash thee.”
Lenten Evening Prayer: The Daily Examen
1. Opening prayer of invitation: become aware of God’s presence (2 minutes).
2. Review the day with gratitude (3 minutes).
3. Pay attention to your emotions (3 minutes).
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it (5 minutes).
5. Closing prayer: look toward tomorrow (2 minutes).
Part 1 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org