By Ellen Yu, InterHigh Mentor, Senior @ UC Berkeley
What may have been going on in Peter’s mind as he refused Jesus’ offer to wash his feet?
Peter was probably overcome with a mix of emotions—confused that the Son of God would want to perform such a menial task by washing his feet, embarrassed that the Son of God was kneeling down at his feet, and maybe even angered that Jesus, the King of kings, would be humiliated in this way. The root of all of Peter’s mixed responses, though, was the sense of unworthiness that he felt at have Jesus washing his feet and an understanding of who Jesus actually is.
What are some ways in which people respond to Jesus like Peter did?
People often respond to Jesus with confusion, embarrassment, or even anger because they do not understand Jesus’ act of sacrifice on the Cross and instead see it through the world’s eyes—a humiliating act. Because the world has no standard to comprehend and interpret such an act of sacrifice, people simply respond with a mix of emotions and feel uncomfortable. They are confused. After all, no where in the world do you see someone of great stature and power embracing a lowly and even humiliating life. Rather, when a famous and powerful celebrity or politician performs such an act, it is not a genuine act of embracing a servant-like mentality, but rather a “publicity stunt” with ulterior motives. The lowly life is something to be intentionally avoided. Therefore, instead of viewing what Jesus did as a beautiful thing, it is interpreted as a humiliating and unwanted act, not something to be accepted and embraced.
What can I learn about what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus from this passage?
This amazing image of Jesus really overtook me this time reading this passage. As I have come to know Jesus more, and the infinite ways in which He knows my life and thoughts more than I could ever fathom or plan out, I can only stand in awe of the Author and Creator of life. The extent to which He knows me nothing in this world, no human or thing, could even come close to matching. His act of sacrifice to wash the feet of the disciples is paralleled by His sacrifice on the Cross. I am unworthy, yet the King of kings humbled Himself in the ultimate act of love and sacrifice. The very fact that He would offer Himself to me in a servant-like manner like He did to Peter is completely amazing.
To have a personal relationship with Jesus means accepting this gift of sacrifice. Ironically, it means that the most unworthy person, who has no entitlement to pride, must let go of her own pride in feeling unworthy of such a gift. It means following Christ out of obedience (“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”), regardless of your own sense of worthiness of the gift or whether you believe the gift should have been given at all.