Exploring the profound symbolism of Jesus washing the disciples' feet in John 13:6-11, revealing lessons in grace and humility.
John 13:6-11 — Foot Washing - 3 — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel. Today we will reflect yet again on John 13:6-11. Listen.
[Jesus] came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
As we saw in our previous reflection, Peter’s initial refusal to let Jesus wash his feet stemmed from a place of reverence and humility. However, he didn’t understand that Jesus did this because there were a few lessons he wanted to teach. One was humility. Another was the need for spiritual cleansing. And a third was about grace.
In simple terms, grace is the unearned, undeserved favor and love that God gives us. It's like receiving a gift we didn't work for or earn; it's freely given out of love.
In this passage, Jesus’ words and actions towards his disciples illustrate this grace. When Jesus says, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me," he introduces a crucial aspect of grace — inclusion and belonging that comes not from our efforts, but from accepting what Jesus offers us.
This grace is not just about physical acts of service, like washing feet, but extends to the very core of our spiritual lives. It represents the forgiveness, acceptance, and love that Jesus extends to humanity, regardless of our flaws and failures. By washing their feet, Jesus was doing more than cleaning their physical selves; he was showing a path to spiritual purity and connection with him, something that can’t be achieved by human efforts alone.
Peter’s reaction, initially refusing and then wholeheartedly accepting the washing, mirrors our own journey with grace. Often, we might struggle to accept grace, feeling unworthy or reluctant to accept something we haven’t earned. Yet, Jesus invites us to receive this grace, to fully embrace the love and forgiveness he offers.
The lesson extends further when Jesus says, "And you are clean, though not every one of you," alluding to Judas' betrayal. This distinction highlights that grace requires acceptance; it is there for everyone, but it must be willingly received and embraced.
As we reflect on this passage, let's think about our understanding and acceptance of God’s grace. Are we like Peter, initially hesitant but ultimately willing to embrace Jesus fully? Do we recognize the gift of grace in our lives — the unearned favor that brings us into a relationship with God?
Let us remember that grace is at the heart of the Gospel. It's God's incredible gift to us, inviting us into a life of love, forgiveness, and deep connection with him.
God bless you.