May 9, 2024

JD Wilhelm
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
John 13:3-16

In high school, I went on a week-long backpacking trip with a group of people from the youth group at the church I attended. I had grown up in church, knew all the correct answers to the questions, and figured I could coast my way through the spiritual part of the trip. At that point, faith was just something I did because it was a part of my family’s values. My identity was wrapped up in other things. I went on the trip just because I loved the outdoors. However, on that trip, I truly met God for the first time. Perhaps more appropriately, God met me. As I was sitting alone in the woods under a tree, my idolatry of the self became crystal clear to me. I intimately understood my deep need for God. Everything changed for me that day. As a result, I began to question how to live out this newfound faith. It became concrete for me when I saw it lived out uniquely.

It was the last night of our trip, and after five days of hiking, a group of teenagers develop a particular smell. After a full day of hiking, we got to our campsite for the evening and took off our packs. When I turned around, I saw that our guides had pulled out small wash tubs with soap and rags. They invited each of us forward as they washed our gross, smelly feet individually. I felt uncomfortable with the idea, so I went last. I even tried to argue my way out of it, but they wouldn’t take no for an answer. At that moment, I began to understand what it meant to follow Jesus. In a concrete way, I understood that to live as a disciple of Jesus meant being willing to serve selflessly. It meant that in situations where everyone else would turn and walk the other way because of the mess, disciples of Jesus were called to draw near to the mess. These guides modeled that for me in a small but significant way that day. Let us look for ways to draw near to the messiness of everyday life in small ways this week.