Although Jesus knew what Peter would do, he still washed his feet, for he knew his true and loving heart. Peter had a heart for Jesus.
It’s springtime. Open-toed shoes and sandals of all kinds are calling my name. Many people are conscientious and insecure about showing their feet or walking around barefoot in the freshly mowed grass. They have good reason to be, too. Feet are smelly, sweaty and dirty, especially during the warmer months as we’re embarking upon now. But feet can also be beautiful. How can that be, you may ask? Well, they don’t become this way magically or even with a relaxing pedicure at the spa. Feet become beautiful when they’re simply washed. And we have a beautiful example in scripture of what it looks like when someone, not just any someone, washes our feet.
In John 13:1-38, Jesus does what seems a bit odd in his disciples’ eyes. I believe the disciples were going into what seemed to be a normal evening meal with their Teacher and Lord. See, this evening meal was just before the Passover Festival and Jesus knew his hour would soon be approaching; his hour of betrayal and eventual death on a cross. He had to have been very nervous, knowing what was soon approaching and knowing that his betrayer was sitting right there in that room with him. Jesus’ disciples had no clue what was about to unfold as they were going about their relaxing evening.
As they’re all eating, Jesus gets up from the table, removes his outer clothing and drapes a towel around his waist. He then pours water into a basin and begins washing his disciples’ feet. I can imagine the puzzling looks on their faces as I’m sure they were internally asking, “Um…why is he washing our feet at dinner?” When he came to Peter, he asked Jesus if he was going to wash his feet. Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Wow. He then went on to explain that not everyone around the table was clean, meaning that he knew who was about to betray him.
After washing their feet, Jesus explained to the disciples the meaning of this act of love and how they are to follow in his example of serving. He then went on to explain to them that he would only be with them a little while longer. When Jesus informed his friends that he would be going somewhere that they couldn’t go, they were even more confused. Peter questioned him, “Lord, where are you going?” He told Jesus that he would follow him anywhere and even lay down his own life for him. Jesus answered him that he would deny him three times before the rooster crows. Peter doesn’t understand why Jesus is telling him this, why would Jesus say that to him?
Jesus knows Peter’s true heart and his true intentions. He knows that he will make a mistake by denying him, but also knows that Peter will go on afterward to preach the gospel and make more disciples. So although Jesus knew what Peter would do, he still washed his feet, for he knew his true and loving heart. Peter had a heart for Jesus. Judas, Judas was different. Jesus knew that Judas was working behind the scenes for his own worldly gain, to sell Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. Judas wasn’t a true disciple. Peter was. Peter regretted his denial of his closest Friend and Teacher. His action caused him great remorse, but God used it for good and lead Peter to share the gospel with new zeal, love and hope. Peter followed the new command Jesus gave them all that evening at dinner: to love one another. John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” As it says in Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news…” Yep, Peter, among the other true disciples, had some beautiful feet.