I am a traitor. I thought that Jesus was going to overthrow the Romans, that he would liberate my country and our people from those Gentile invaders. I thought that following Jesus would put me in a position of political power, of being able to change things. I’d been a bit of an outsider from the beginning, one of the twelve, close to Jesus but not quite at the centre of things. Still, I’d been close enough to start to realise that Jesus wasn’t quite the Messiah I’d thought he’d be. I admit, there was cash involved as well. I know I had a reputation for taking money for myself from the common purse, another betrayal. Those thirty pieces of silver sure were shiny. I am a traitor.
Yet, he washed my feet. He must have known what I was planning, he started talking about it straight afterwards. He wasn’t surprised when I arrived in the garden, he knew I was going to come, and he knew who I was going to come with, and why. Still, he gave me that piece of bread and sent me out into the night, with my newly cleaned feet, and so I went, to betray him. Yet, he washed my feet.
I am a traitor. Jesus called me his rock, his strong one, the foundation of his church. I thought that I was strong. I was so sure of myself. I’d left everything to follow him, listened to him, seen him do astonishing things. I’d been part of his inner circle, the gang of three – me and James and John. We’d been to the mountain tops with Jesus, into the inner room, seen the dead raised, the crowds gather and then desert when the teachings got hard. I’d seen others leave, but I was certain that I wasn’t going to. As I said, where else could we go, he had the words of eternal life. Then the darkness closed in, the torches flared, the kiss was kissed, the sword swung, and I was lost in a crowded courtyard of accusation and shadows. I am a traitor.
Yet, he washed my feet. Over my protests that swung from refusal to over enthusiasm, he did exactly what I needed. He washed my feet. He must have known, as soon as Judas went out he started talking about it. I was all confidence and commitment, but he knew the brittleness of my strength and told me straight. I was going to betray him. I blustered and flustered and denied it, but he knew in the end that I would deny him. Yet, he washed my feet.
I am a traitor. There are times when I have spoken when I should have kept silent. There are times when I’ve kept silent when I should have spoken. I haven’t loved others as I am loved. I haven’t loved God with all that I am. I have become jealous of the possessions of others, and been selfish with my own. I’ve sought power and authority and influence, and bristled at being kept out of the loop. I am a traitor.
Yet, he washes my feet. I acknowledge Jesus as my Lord, and believe in his name. I have been baptised into his death and resurrection. I have been thoroughly washed and am clean. But my feet still get dirty as I walk through the world. I do not have to be anxious about this, or overly scrupulous, but I do have to let Jesus wash my feet. I have to allow my Lord and Saviour to kneel before me and wash my feet. It’s shameful to me, that I still need this, but I do. To be too proud to allow it would be yet another betrayal. The Father has put all things under his power, and so, he washes my feet.
We are traitors.
Yet, he washes our feet.
We may have been betrayed. We may open ourselves up to betrayal.
Yet, will we wash their feet?