While entertaining friends or family in our homes, we all want to leave the guests with an experience they will never forget. Jesus was no exception to this rule during His Last Supper, creating two very significant events. The first moment Jesus created was the Eucharist. The word, “Eucharist” means thanksgiving. First, Jesus thanked and praised God for the bread and wine. Then, He started speaking mysteriously of eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood. This isn’t the first time that He had referred to Himself as being Bread, and He talked to the woman at the well about being drink that satisfies thirst forever. Be that as it may, it’s still quite a thing to say at a holiday party! It is the first time that He handed them Bread and declared that it was His Body, and gave them a cup proclaiming that the wine was His Blood.
Because it was so common for Jesus to teach using bread, it may have been easy for the Disciples to miss the significance of what Jesus was saying until later, but shortly after this first Holy Communion, Jesus does something for His Disciples that caused a stir in the dinner guests immediately. He washed their feet.
4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Jesus did this as an example. He created a picture in the minds of His followers that would burn in their hearts forever. Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself to the point of washing their dirty, well-traveled feet. I have often heard it said how dirty the roads were back then. The streets were full of the manure from camels and donkeys…and perhaps even human waste. Regardless of who you were or how clean the rest of your body may be, the reality was that if you traveled anywhere, your feet would be encrusted with the wastes of the world. He had come to wash them clean from the soil that so easily attaches itself to us as we travel this journey of life.
Jesus wanted to leave His closest followers with rituals that could be used in years to come in order to remember Who He was, and Who He was about to be. He knows our weaknesses. He knows that when we reduce something down to our words, they become empty and dead without some type of action. By requesting that we remember Him in Communion, He ensured that He would leave behind an experience by which we could more readily meditate on He being in us, and we being in Him. By setting the example of washing their feet, He gave them an experience of servanthood. Next time you are taking Communion, remember that He wanted you to experience Him on a regular basis, and this is one way He provides this experience. Allow Him to become real on a new level to you. And the washing of the feet? Experience Christ by becoming a servant to all.