There are often very tender moments at the bedside of someone who is nearing the last hours of life. Sometimes it is the recollection of memories or the opportunity to forgive and find peace and reconciliation that make that time so memorable. At other times it is simply the silence or the expression of deep love that comes through the gentle squeeze of a hand or the whispered words that make them so precious. While the disciples didn’t realize it, Jesus knew that the evening spent in that upper room with His disciples would be his last opportunity to express “the full extent of His love” to them before his arrest and crucifixion. John is the one Gospel writer that tells the story of that evening in great detail, beginning with the surprising story of Jesus’ willingness to humbly take on the role of a servant.
The disciples were mystified. Peter was outspoken. Jesus was their TEACHER, the One who knew the answers to the questions of life and death. He was the One sent by His Father to heal and to perform miracles and to have power over storms and sickness and even death. Jesus was the LORD. He was the Son of God. He was the Messiah, the Liberating King. He was the Son of Man who would someday be glorified. Why did He want to wash their feet that night? While this act of kindness and care communicated some very important things to the disciples, is it possible that it also ministered to the heart of the Savior?
Then, suddenly, Judas’ plan to betray Jesus was exposed. The disciples were still seated quietly when Jesus told them that He was preparing them for the hours ahead so that they would continue to believe that “I AM HE” even when it looked like the enemies were winning – John 13:19. Isn’t it amazing that right up to the very end of His earthly life Jesus was able teach His followers then (and now) what the meaning of love and of humility really looked like both through His words and His actions?