If you had only 1 year left to live, what would you do? You would take that vacation, right? You would spend all the time with the people you love. You would make the memories and capture the moments. What if you only had 1 month to live? You would leave for that vacation tomorrow, right? You would waste no time. You would make amends. You would say everything you need to say.
But what if you only had 1 day. One day left to live. If you knew this were your final day of life ever on this earth, what would you do? I’ll tell you this much for darn sure, I wouldn’t eat my ground chicken and green beans! I wouldn’t be worried about emails. And I wouldn’t spend any money on Amazon because even Prime couldn’t get it here in time. And for heaven’s sake, I wouldn’t be trying to sleep away the day!
What would you do if you knew, this is it? One last shot at living. Who would you most want to be with and what would you want to do? What things would no longer be of any importance at all, and what would become the single most important thing to you?
Jesus knew he had one more day. He knew the next day he would go to the cross to suffer and die. And what did he do on his final night of life? He washed feet.
Woah … doesn’t that hit you hard? Knowing this was his last night of his human existence, he chose to wash feet. Jesus says in Matthew 11: 29, “Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
This is the ultimate unforced rhythm of grace. This is knowing time is short and choosing to slow down and do what is most important. Watch how Jesus does this. And remember, Jesus is washing the feet of 2 people who were about to do really stupid things. One would deny him, and one would betray him.
I watched a short video clip yesterday of a man explaining the difference between Peter and Judas, and it showed me something I had never thought of before. Both sinned. Both failed, but Jesus says something very different about the two of them.
On that final night of Jesus’ life, the disciples are gathered with Jesus in the Upper Room for the Last Supper together. For those of you not from the South, supper is dinner. Where I grew up, you ate 3 meals: Breakfast, Dinner and Supper. This was Supper, the evening meal. This meal was eaten together reclining at a low table. Sitting on the ground at a low table meant their feet were very close to their food. Because the shoes of those days were sandals, you know Jesus sandals like Berkenstocks, their feet would be very dirty from the dusty roads. It was customary for the lowest servant present to wash the feet of everyone at the table. And Jesus is here on his final night of his earthly life and sees dirty feet from dusty journeys.
While Jesus is humbly washing their feet, he explains the difference between Peter who denies Jesus, and Judas who betrays Jesus.
Now listen closely because this is important for you today. Get ready to have guilt and shame and burden lifted right off your shoulders!
John 13: 1-11, “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
Although Peter was about to deny Jesus 3 times, and Jesus absolutely knew it was coming, he still told Peter he was clean. Clean meant forgiven, covered, redeemed. Yes, before he sinned, Jesus had already forgiven him. But, for Judas, he said he was not clean.
What’s the difference? Why was Judas not clean? Why was his pending betrayal different than Peter’s upcoming denial? Didn’t they both sin, fall short and fail? Didn’t they both do terrible things to Jesus which took him to the cross? Yes, but here’s the difference:
Peter’s denial of Jesus was a mistake. It was a stupid choice in the moment that he would immediately regret. But Judas had set his heart to go against God. The difference is heart posture, not the failure. Peter failed, but he wasn’t intentionally going against God. Judas’ failure was not an accident. His heart was set against God, and this is what made him unclean.
So, you failed, right? You screwed up. And maybe you even screwed up for a long time. Whew girl, you wandered hard and far. You were lost. You know what Jesus does for the lost? He leaves the 99 to find the 1 who is lost. He came looking for you, didn’t he! That’s why you’re listening to this today … Jesus came looking for you. He never gave up on you. You just need a little foot washin’, Sis. You don’t have to hide from Jesus because of what you did. He has already forgiven you. You made a mistake. Okay. Jesus is already over it and he really wants you to get over it too. Your failure has not made you unclean in the sight of Jesus.
Peter’s denial of Jesus may seem just as terrible as Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, but Jesus says it’s totally different solely because of the heart. Peter was clean, he just needed his feet washed from his journey. Judas was unclean because his heart was never given to Jesus in the first place. He was set against God.
So here’s where you can breathe … you just have dirty feet, not an unclean soul. Jesus has already saved you because of your heart set toward him. You’ve already been made clean. And you’ve already been forgiven of every failure, every wrong choice, every bad decision, every mistep, and every single day you wandered further and further away. Let Jesus just wash your feet from that journey so you don’t keep dragging it around with you. Honey, your soul is already clean.
This doesn’t have to separate you from God. No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve been, no matter how long you’ve been there, Jesus wants to wash you clean. Let’s say you were once wrong, real wrong. You were on a mission to prove Jesus is wrong and God isn’t real. You were in full on Judas betrayal mode. Well, that’s not your heart anymore is it? You’re listening, that means you’re searching. Even if you don’t understand and fully believe yet, you’re searching and that means the posture of your heart has turned. Let Jesus cleanse you fully! Let him wash all that guilt and all that shame off you. If you haven’t been baptized, this is what it’s all about. Just be washed clean! If you’re wanting to be baptized, get yourself connected to a Church. Heck, get yourself to one of our BIG Life Retreats. I will baptize anyone who has a heart turned toward Jesus, and I would be absolutely honored.
If you’ve already received forgiveness from Jesus, just come back to have your feet washed. Let him cleanse your journey and direct your steps. Your missteps and failure to do this perfectly have not dismissed you from the love of Jesus. He knows the posture of your heart, and that’s what matters to him.
Jesus’ forgiveness is permanent and it is complete. Even when you stumble. Even when you fail. Even when you wander. Jesus can just wash that journey from your feet now. You don’t have to walk in regret, guilt or shame. You and I are on a lifelong journey of continual sanctification. We need our sins to be washed from us daily, and that’s what Jesus does as a humble and willing servant to those he loves. He washes feet. Let him wash yours. Whatever your journey has been, Jesus is just glad you’re here at his table today with a heart turned toward him.