Service, Cleansing, and Intimacy

The ideal of humbleness is expressed in selfless service. The ideal of service is expressed in humbleness. Jesus demonstrates this in the timeless tale of foot washing. In the same spirit of love and respect that he shows them, Jesus is inspiring his disciples to serve one another, and all people, regardless of their status or condition. This mirrors God – yes? God created the water in the well, the indwelling spirit within, bathing each of us with this Grace, even though we may not be aware of it, and regardless of our status, condition, or conviction. By washing the feet even of Judas whom Jesus seems to know will betray him, Jesus demonstrates how this ideal includes those that may seem like enemies – he serves and ministers to others without discriminating whether they are friends or foe.

When Peter objects to the washing, Jesus emphasizes the importance not just of physical cleansing, but also of spiritual cleansing. In this, Jesus suggests that we are not all spiritually clean. It would appear obvious that he is referring to Judas, predicting his betrayal, but I wondered further about what it means to be ‘spiritually clean’. I have been considering this phrase, and it seems to me that it has to do with being pure somehow, in having clean or clear vision, clean minds and hearts, and clean actions. Perhaps when we are spiritually clean we are clear windows to God: open, receptive, transparent, reflective of light, and when our feet are clean we travel a pure path – responsibly, in service to God by serving others.

Like Crystal, and like Simon Peter, I, too, could imagine my own resistance to having my body cleansed by Jesus – someone I admire so much. Indeed, this feels like tremendous intimacy, having Jesus this close to my body, touching me in ways I don’t let anyone else touch me. But as in the prayer Crystal posted, envisioning this intimacy with Jesus in this way allows him into our most personal zones, indeed further into our hearts.


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