Bible Text: John 13:1-15, 34-35 | Preacher: Rev. Mark Buetow | Series: 2016
So let’s get this out of the way right up front. The washing of the disciples’ feet is about absolution. It’s about forgiving us when we step in it. You’re already baptized. You’ve already bathed, says Jesus, but you just need your feet washed. In other words, you’re already baptized but you step in steaming piles of sin, so you need your feet washed. You need to be forgiven. And this is the example Jesus gives to us, that we are to love one another this way: that we forgive others their sins. Jesus does this because He knows all things and He’s going to the Father after He accomplishes our salvation. Think about this. Jesus knows He’s going to do the will of the Father and save sinners. He knows Judas is about to hand Him over. He knows the rest of the disciples are going to abandon Him and run away. He knows Peter is going to deny Him. And He still washes their feet. He knows that their sins and the actions of evil men will end Him up on the cross. And He still loves them to the end. Because that’s what saves us. Jesus loving us all the way to the end. The “telos.” The final thing. His death for the sins of the world and your sins on the cross. That’s Jesus loving you all the way to the end. Going all the way. To the final end. Your salvation on Calvary.
Jesus knows what you’re going to do. He knows the sins you’re going to commit. He knows what you’re going to say, think, and do. He knows. And He still came to die for you. He still washed you in your baptism. And He will still wash your feet when you step in sin, absolving you and giving you His Supper of salvation. He will still hang on that Cross for you. Because that’s the only thing that will save you. And then He washes you from head to toe. That’s your baptism. Your sins washed away. The blood of Calvary sprinkled on you. The body and blood given you to eat and drink. That’s how Jesus loves you. He delivers and bestows upon you the forgiveness of His dying and rising. But, of course, you still sin. Still step in it. So there’s washing for that. Foot washing. Absolution. You still need forgiveness over and over. And you’ll always have it. No matter what you have done. You are clean because Jesus has washed you.
And now look at this picture of life in the church. Jesus washes the disciples feet and then tells them to wash one another’s feet. Jesus gives them this new commandment to love one another as He has loved them. What does that look like? It looks like you coming to church to have your feet washed, that is, your sins forgiven, and then going out to wash other people’s feet, that is, forgive their sins. Because as nasty as somebody’s feet might be to wash? The actual dirtier job, the more difficult and disgusting thing is to forgive them their sins. Their faults. Their mistakes. Their blunders. To forgive others is a nasty and dirty business because it might mean you get hurt or stepped on your taken advantage of. It might mean you die for that person as Jesus died for you, to bear your sins. But here’s the thing: Jesus forgives you. He’s going to raise you from the dead. No matter what you suffer or have to forgive, He’s going to work it all out in His love and forgiveness. Jesus washes your feet. You wash others’ feet. Jesus forgives you. You forgive others. Why should you go to the Sacrament? Remember the Christian Questions: So that I may learn to believe that Jesus, out of great love, died for my sin, and also learn from Him to love God and my neighbor. That’s life in the church, living from the gifts that Jesus has given beginning on the very night He was betrayed. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.