Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
This act of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet is one of the great demonstrations of sacrificial love. There is so much I could say about it and will at other times. But today, focus in on verse 15, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” This is at the heart of what it means to mentor someone.
I asked my daughter, Parker, to write something for me about one of the mentors in her life. She has had many! Parker is now 21 years old and thriving in college. She still benefits from the many people who chose to follow the example of Jesus in serving another. May her words inspire you to seek or become a mentor.
I am blessed with so many people who have made an in impact in my life because they invested in me. I have our church to thank for so many of those people, also my Mom and Dad, counselors at summer camp, and many teachers and coaches. I know very well just how impactful mentorship can be in your life. When someone invests in you, they are making a deliberate decision to pay attention to you though they have other things they could be doing. Often, my experience has been that they see something in me that I could not see in myself.
Truly sacrificial love wants for you more than they want for themselves. Jesus died on the cross out of a love for us that transcended his own desires. Parents know this love every day, sacrificing their energy and desires for the needs of their children. That kind of love is a unique gift when it is poured out by someone who did not have to give it.
Almost 8 years ago, I walked into a classroom covered from ceiling to floor with all things green and blue on the first day of 8th grade, and met my very pregnant Language Arts teacher, Mrs. Boydstun. I’m pretty sure I loved her immediately as she introduced herself and told us about her husband and all of her dogs. Later that week, Mrs. Boydstun had her baby boy and was on maternity leave for several weeks. During her leave, I ran into Mrs. Boydstun at Chili’s, and a shy 8th grade (total teacher’s pet) Parker went and said “Hi” to my teacher. Remember she had only had me in class for 4 days before leaving. She probably barely remembered my name at that point, but somehow that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. For all of 8th grade, Mrs. Boydstun loved on me and encouraged me, helping me to blossom into a confident leader. I still have post-it notes that I would find on my desk when we came back from lunch. She recognized and met my need for reassurance and my desire to serve others, and that won my heart.
Mrs. Boydstun moved to my high school when I was a sophomore, and we picked up right where we had left off. I spent countless hours in Mrs. Boydstun’s classroom over the next three years, even though I never had her as an actual teacher again. I was so drawn to her because she listened to me and cared about what was going on in my life. She saw potential and greatness in me that I did not believe I had. She spent many hours listening to me when I know she had papers to grade and a family to get home to. She told me she loved me, but I knew she loved me by her actions. Mrs. Boydstun saw through the mess that I was, and loved me through some of the most awkward years of my life. She loved me when I made mistakes, or was overwhelmed with frustration. She offered grace that she was not required to give, but did anyway.
One of the greatest joys in my life is sitting in the back of Mrs. Boydstun’s classroom and watching her teach her students. Even as a Junior in college I still make time to visit her and observe. Mrs. Boydstun genuinely loves teaching, she loves her kids, she loves her subject, and she is sincerely invested in giving her students tools they will use for the rest of their life. I have seen her tired or in a bad mood, and still, walk to the front and teach with a joy that comes not from mood, but from passion. Passion for how she is impacting the lives of her students every minute of every day. Her cup will be empty when she meets God face to face because she pours it out generously every day. Mrs. Boydstun inspires me to find my gifts and use them to the fullest, as she does.
A mentor is a safe place, a source of wisdom, inspiration, and grace, a touchstone to truth, an example of sacrificial love. Reflecting on Mrs. Boydstun and all the others in my life who have loved me so well, I see God’s hand at work, placing each one in my life as a connection to my true identity which is found in God. A mentor is someone who is being a physical presence of Jesus in your life. Who is in your life that looks and acts like Jesus?
God, make me an instrument of your grace in the world. Show me how to be a servant to others in big and small ways. Bring people into my life who will love me unconditionally and help guide me with your wisdom. Give me a community where I may grow deeper in love with you and others. Show me the areas where I need to adapt, grow and mature, and let your Holy Spirit guide me on the path toward a deeper faith. Thank you for your daily grace and mercy. In the name of the Creator, the Savior and the Guide, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.