God is love. He so loved the world that he gave his only Son. (John 3:16) God is love. He so loved the world that he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. God is love. He so loved his people to the end that he humbled himself, became obedient to death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-11) Jesus said before to his disciples that, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. … And I lay down my life for the sheep. … For this reason, the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” (John 10:11-18)
And now here, before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour, when he will accomplish the Father’s will, His saving work, and reveal His love for the world, for his people, for his creation, has come.
In the footwashing today, Jesus showed what would happen in the cross which is the moment of glorification, when Father’s love for his Son, and Son’s love for his Father, are revealed, and also, God’s self-giving love for the world is revealed and God’s saving work for the people is ccomplished. We are not travelers, but pilgrims, going to the house of the Lord, lifting up our eyes to the Lord who is enthroned in the heavens, looking to the Lord our God until he has mercy upon us. (Psalm 123) In pilgrimage, our feet become dirty with our brokenness, sinfulness, darkness, hatred, greed, violence, and our feet get wounded and tired with walking through day to day living.
And now here, Jesus, the Son of God, calls us to his table. Getting up his table, taking off his robe, tying a towel around himself, and pouring water into a basin, he kneels before his disciples and us as a servant, and says, “Let me wash your feet. Don’t’ be shy. Do not be afraid. Do not hide your feet from me. I know you as my Father knows me. You are my sheep. I love you as my Father loves me. Let me wash your dirty and wounded feet so that you may join this table with me with my Father in heaven. Unless I wash you, you have no share with me. This is my gift coming from heaven. This is my love coming from the Father. Later, you will see more, you will understand.”
Jesus says to us today, “I know my hour, when I will accomplish my Father’s will, and reveal his love, has come. But, you should know your hour, when you have to answer my calling, my command, also has come. The Father’s feast, the heavenly banquet has already begun. Take off your shoe. Show me you dirty feet. Submit yourself to me. And, let me wash your feet. And let us join my Father’s feast.” “Let us go into the house of the Father. Your feet are standing its gates.” (Psalm 122:1-2) “As I, your Lord and Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. Just as I loved you, you also should love one another. Unless you do keep a new commandment, you have no share with me.”
In footwashing in Christ, our eyes are washed to see beyond the suffering and death and sorrow and despair. In footwashing with Christ, our body is washed to put on a new body. In footwashing through Christ, our mouth is washed to proclaim and to give witness God’s good news. And in footwashing in the cross, we are washed to become a new creature and a new humanity.
Today, as Jesus washed his disciples’ feet as a servant, we are about to wash one another’ feet as a servant to one another. Today, as Jesus stripped off his robe and emptied himself (Philippians 2:5-11), we are about to strip and empty our church, our altar, and ourselves. Today, as Jesus was about to go up to the hill of death to be lifted up on the cross, we are about to follow him together and enter into God’s silence, hiddenness, emptiness, and darkness, sharing his suffering and agony with him. But we know, his going up is not the end of divine drama, but its new beginning.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us answer to our Lord, who is calling us to join his journey of glorification, and to share the joy of his resurrection. Amen.