2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
Some particulars I want to look at before we leave this passage. First, Judas Iscariot had already agreed to betray Jesus. We don’t know why – the author has told us that he was in charge of the purse for the group, and was stealing from it. He was angry at Mary for having used expensive perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet, when he could have had that money as well. We do not know that it was greed that motivated Judas, or if he was hurt or disappointed or angry. We do know that his name has gone down in history as a synonym for traitor and betrayer. We also know that Jesus knew. We see that in verse 10 – 11:
And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
And so – we know that Jesus intentionally washed the feet of the one who would betray him. He did not go around Judas, or skip over him; he served him, knowing that he had already betrayed him. Jesus loved even Judas; he served even Judas – he forgave even Judas. How many of us could do the same?
Secondly, in this passage we notice that the Father has given all authority into Jesus’ hands, and he knew that he had come from God and was going to God. John reminds us once again that Jesus accepted his role in salvation willingly; he was sent from God for this, but it was his choice – it was a gift he gave us.
5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.”
But when Jesus came to Simon Peter, to wash his feet, Peter said “No!” He would not allow Jesus to serve him. Jesus says he must allow him to serve – he will understand later – for now, he must be a part of this relationship with Jesus that allows serving, and being served, as an expression of the relationship, and of hospitality. When one entered a household, the host saw to it that guests’ feet were washed. It is not about being “clean” which is Peter’s immediate conclusion, when he says “wash my hands and my head as well”. It is about relationship. It is an intimate act of hospitality for the kingdom of God – a welcome into God’s household. Peter is “clean”, for he loves Jesus, but not all the disciples are clean – Judas, the betrayer, is there.