Signs and Works in John’s Gospel — John 13:1-5, 12-17

Christ washing the feet of the Apostles, by Gi...

Christ washing the feet of the Apostles, by Giotto di Bondone (Cappella Scrovegni a Padova) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Signs and Works in John’s Gospel – John 13:1-5, 12-17

S – E – R – V – E
See also Mk. 9:35; I John 2:23; I Peter 2:17; James 4:10; Jer. 13:6-7

Supper – v. 1 – This humble enactment takes place during the last supper.

Expectation – v. 7-9 – It was customary to have someone wash the feet of the guests in this culture. The disciples were expecting some underling to do the work.

Ritual – v. 4 — Jesus donned a towel and went to work. The disciples were so surprised they were nearly speechless. Peter protests, but he soon recants when he realizes this is something bigger than he supposes.

Vicarious sacrifice – v. 8 – Jesus had been doing this throughout his ministry. He had been serving. Now he is serving in a symbolic way to send a message to the disciples that he is serving sacrificially

Example – v. 14-15 – The example is performed in the tradition of the prophets of Israel. So often their audience could see a message better than they could hear a message. It was so on this night. The example was to be imitated. No, it was not just the foot washing that was to be imitated; it was the loving service that was to be imitated.

Exemplary story: When Pastor Jones and his two children greeted Mrs. Bingham on the church car port, Pastor Jones was surprised. Mrs. Bingham’s faithful pet, Britches, was accompanying her. Normally Britches wants to play with the children, but this time the little dog slid under the seat when she saw the children. This puzzled Pastor Jones. When Mrs. Bingham drove away, he asked the children why the dog was so skittish. The children looked at one another and didn’t speak. Pastor Jones knew there was a story somewhere and pulled it out of them slowly. It seems that they had been playing church with Britches the last time Mrs. Bingham was the parsonage. Somehow they succeeded in doing a foot washing ceremony with Britches as a disciple. When the little boy suggested that Britches needed to be baptized, the dog sensed what was about to happen and slipped out of their reach. After that Britches refused to play church with the Jones children. Britches had learned the difference between genuine service and play acting.

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