Last week I was in a nice cabin in the hill country of Georgia. We were doing planning in a place where there were no disturbances. No e-mail, no internet access. It was a beautiful, peaceful place. Blue sky overhead, our cabin sat in a narrow valley with trees towering all around. Part of our work was looking at the Gospel of John, chapters 13 to 17, a really familiar, really important and meaningful passage to Christians. Jesus’ last words to his disciples. Something that jumps out at me from John 13 is Peter's reaction when Jesus tells him He is going to wash the disciples feet. Peter didn't want any part of that. He didn't want Jesus to wash his feet, didn’t want Jesus to serve him. Peter wanted to do things for Jesus. Peter wanted to prove his worth.
Peter's reaction was pretty normal. Although we love to have people do little things for us, we really like to operate out of a position of power. We like to be in charge. We’re the ones who do things for other people. We like to be in control and we don't like to be humbled by the thought that someone else has to help us. That's the problem with Christianity, with faith in Jesus. We have to admit that we can't help ourselves but need God's help in life and in death. We have to agree with the Bible that the only way to God is to ask Jesus to forgive us and we have to ask Him to enter our life and be our master. We have to allow Jesus to “wash us clean” from our sins, the things we do which are not what God would want us to do. Most people would much rather prove to God how good they are, show Him by the good things they do why they should be let into heaven. God says it doesn’t work that way. None of us can meet his criteria of holiness and purity. Like Peter at the Last Supper with Jesus, we have to allow Jesus to wash us. When we humble ourselves and accept Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself for us, then we become holy and pure. The road to heaven is one of admitting failure, not one of showing strength. It isn’t a popular road.