April 02, 2014

Willing to Be Washed

John 13:6-8

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
—John 13:8


It’s a humbling, maybe even humiliating, thing to have someone wash you. Nurses know the awkwardness as well as the importance of bathing patients who cannot bathe themselves. Sometimes a broken body prevents patients from getting themselves cleaned up.

This is also true in the life of faith. Most of us cherish our independence. We are doers. We are achievers. We resent needing to rely on others for things we think we can do ourselves. Yet the truth is that we are broken because of sin. The Bible teaches that in order to enter into the fullness of life that God intends for us, we need to be washed clean. But we are unable to do that for ourselves.

Peter’s refusal to be washed by Jesus was vehement. It could be translated this way: “You will never ever wash my feet—ever!” Peter thought he was saying the proper thing. It didn’t feel right for Jesus to be acting as a servant to him. How could it be fitting for his Master to descend to such lowliness?

Jesus’ reply to Peter was also vehement. In essence, Jesus said, “If I can’t wash you, you can’t have me.” Peter needed to humble himself. He needed to receive the forgiveness of sin that Jesus was offering.

So do we.

So, give in. Be washed. And receive fullness of life!

God of grace, wash me clean of all my sins. Help me receive the fullness of life that you offer through Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Ruth Boven

Ruth Boven serves as minister of congregational life at LaGrave Ave. CRC in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She and her husband, Greg, have two adult children. They find rich purpose in urban ministry and delight in enjoying the wonders of God's good creation.

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