Wow, we’re already 1/5th of the way through lent. Today we read John 13:8-17.
8 Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”
Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
9 “Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”
10-12 Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.
12-17 Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
So, was Peter being a spokesman for all 12 disciples here? And think about it a minute. Jesus has been performing miracle upon miracle and now He’s talking about crosses and being crucified. You can strip a gear changing subjects that fast! We’re about two years into the disciples following Jesus and doing life with him everyday. Let’s look as just a few of the miracles they had witnessed: a dead girl brought back to life, a demon-possessed man returning to peaceful sanity, storms calmed, bodies healed, bread multiplied and most recently, water walking by Jesus.
All these miracles had not prepared them to welcome the crucifixion. The problem isn’t with the miracles but rather with our perception of the miracles. We think that if we get one miracle, should continue getting miracles – a kind of divine monthly deposit. Once raised, shouldn’t Lazarus live forever? Miracles are less a promise for tomorrow and more of a showing of God’s love and power for today. Today, God provides bread. Today, God calms storms. Tomorrow’s needs and storms cannot void the reality of today’s miracles any more than today’s miracles can void the potential of tomorrow’s needs and storms. I’ve seen miracles and be bewildered by them. The miracle of a child born perfectly healthy, only to die of SIDS weeks later. The miracle of a “God-only” pregnancy, only to end in miscarriage. The church in general panics when miracles miscarry. We scurry about in an attempt to prop up God’s sagging reputation. “There must have been a problem,” we offer. “God must have something better around the corner.” Must He? Herein lies our lent challenge for the day: let the mourning mourn. Allow those who grieve the dignity to ask questions. Grant those bewildered permission to NOT edit their honesty.
Take a moment to recall miracles that ended in heartbreak in your life or in the lives of those close to you. When have you felt the need to “prop up God’s sagging reputation”? The challenge today is to fast from fixing things. Let the broken be broken for a day – be that a tool or a heart.