“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” -John 13:5
There is such intimacy present in these few words. If we allow ourselves once again to place ourselves in the upper room, what do we see, hear, and feel? I hear the splash of the water as Jesus pours it from the pot and I see a stream of diamond lights as the water catches the beams from the lamps. The disciples were thinking to themselves, what is he doing? He knelt before each of them setting a wide bowl beneath their feet and pouring the water.
Washing another’s feet is a deeply intimate act. Perhaps, in that culture, it carried with it no intimacy, but rather was simply viewed as a degraded act to be performed by servants. Regardless, I cannot help seeing the gentleness and tenderness of Jesus, his rough carpenter hands taking time to clean the soles, and toes, and ankles of these men.
In the 21st Century, in America at least, physical touch–and especially between men–is avoided, or minimized. It can be threatening, yet Jesus modeled the way we are to be with one another. Christianity was never meant to be a merely a cerebral faith; it is ruddy. Earthy. Incarnate. I wonder if sexual brokenness would be such a huge issue if nonsexual physical touch was not so quickly shamed.
Jesus, Your message is not one of distance, but one intimacy; not of indifference, but closeness. You call us to lives of love and that involves getting into the dirt with people. Help me, by your Spirit, to be your hands and feet. Amen.