“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you…..” Matthew 5:44

“So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments and sat down again……if I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  John 13: 12, 14

There is not enough bandwidth or storage space in all the computers or networks ever in existence to capture all the amazing things about Jesus Christ.  Yet, because I have spent so much of my life teaching adults, for me, one of the most amazing aspects of Jesus’ ministry and behavior is how understanding of human nature, God on earth was and is.  He knew that when faced with a difficult or troubling concept, we humans are much more dismissive unless we can see the concept actually carried out.

Jesus knows the He is about to have the most horrendous experience.  He knows that He is going face the vilest humiliation, incredibly grotesque torture and finally monstrously painful death.  He also knows, it will start, it will be humanly possible, because of the betrayal one who is among His closest.  One who He actually chose to be with Him.

Jesus knows that Judas is going to leave to betray Him.  Jesus knows that Judas will not be there to finish the meal.  Jesus could have waited to wash His disciples feet.  Jesus might have found that it would have been a touching gesture toward the end of the meal, after Judas had already left, to put an emphasis on the new covenant of the bread and the wine.  But no, Jesus never did anything by accident or without purpose and forethought.

You see, it appears to me, because John starts Chapter 13 off by saying that Jesus Christ loved His disciples to the end.  John stated no exception for Judas.  Jesus knew and knows that we need examples.  Jesus said to love your enemies.  So He takes off his garments, strips down to just a towel, humbles himself and washes the feet of all His disciples, including Judas!  And then He tells His disciples, and through them the rest of us who want to follow Him, to do likewise.

I know for me this is a “hard saying” to live out.  I spent several years in the military.  I thought about the saying that no greater sacrifice is there than a person will give their lives for another.  I believe I was prepared to do that.  Yet I confess in my mind, examples of the other people I would be willing to sacrifice my life for were my family, other citizens of my country as well as the innocent or down trodden of the enemy.  But what sacrifice would I be willing to make to or for the enemy?  Was I or am I not right to hate those who are trying take my life and/or the freedom I cherish so greatly?  I have seen the foot washing ceremony carried out many times, even in our own church.  Yet the feet that are washed are always the feet of fellow believers and friends.  What would I do with the feet of one who is lying about me, cursing me to my face, threatening me?  Again, for me at least, a hard saying.

Yet two wonderful things I can take from this.  First, while I am a sinner, I don’t believe that I am an enemy of Jesus Christ.  So if Christ, can show such love and compassion against he who would seek to destroy him, can I ever doubt the love that He has for me and all those who believe in Him?  Christ does love me, completely, totally, just as I am.  How do I know?  He died for me.  Secondly, I most probably don’t have, on my own, the strength of love for my enemies that Christ said that I should have and demonstrated in His own life.  Yet Christ promises that all things are possible in Him so the more that I can deny myself and call and live upon Him, the more likely I am to gain the strength to Love as he Loved.  He does not require that I accomplish this on my own.  In fact He warns me not to try.

His message is so needed in this world.  A world where people are killing each other over texting, where children are walking into schools with shotguns and killing other children, where some who are calling themselves Christians have such hate for enemies that killing them is not enough, they are also eating parts of their bodies.  Yet this is the world, the very people whom Christ came to save.  And in and through the Power of His Love, He overcame the world and only through Him and His Love can we do the same.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we humbly confess that Your Son Jesus Christ preached many things that are not easy for us.  Thus we are so very grateful that Jesus Christ came to earth to experience the difficulty, live a life of perfect examples and promise both His and Your perfect Love and Strength so that we could live lives of examples as well.  Give us Your Spirit on our hearts, Most Merciful Father, that we would strive to be like Jesus Christ; showing love both to those who would return it to us as well as our enemies who will only hate us.  That in so doing we may show the power of love and bring praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen