On the day of Passover with all preparations complete, Jesus met with his disciples. He had been looking forward to this celebration. The Bible states he fervently desired to eat the Passover meal with them. Jesus was anticipating the fellowship with those he loved and also was preparing to break all boundaries in tradition. A seismic shift would begin at this Passover, a new covenant was to be set.
The evening began as it always did, with prayer and singing and the first cup of wine, the Cup of Holiness. It was then that Jesus took off his robe, and stooped with towel in hand to wash the feet of his friends one by one. Jesus became the servant.
When Jesus broke with tradition pride reared its head.
Peter was the disciple who voiced objection. He was offended at having Jesus kneel before him to wash his feet. His offense was the mask hiding his pride.
Peter’s were big man feet – dusty and dirty and hard cracked. Mine were lady feet, toe nails polished, callouses removed. But it was shockingly humbling, almost embarrassing, when I was asked during a Maundy Thursday service if she could wash my feet. The only reason I said yes was that it would have been more embarrassing to say no. I had to gulp down my pride to even get out of my seat and walk to the chair at the front of the church. Enduring the minutes, I squirmed through the washing of my smelly, misshapen feet. It was so much easier to wash hers.
Why is it so easy to give and so hard to receive? Peter turned from his pride quickly. How quickly do I turn from my pride and receive something graciously? I may be a cheerful giver, but a gracious receiver is the hardest.
It is said that 40 days of an activity transforms that activity into habit. These 40 days of Lent could be our time to develop the sweet habit of swallowing our pride to be able to taste the good of the Lord. If our mouths are full we cannot open them wide.
We will be in the good company of other pride-swallowing friends. It was humiliating for the woman who had been bleeding twelve years to come out of the crowd and admit her ailment and that she had been the one to touch Jesus’ robe. The Samaritan woman left her pride and her water jar and ran to tell of the man who had revealed her sin. Thomas swallowed his pride when Jesus showed his hands and side, then rose to highest heights and exclaimed, My Lord and My God!
I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. Psalm 81: 10
Question: What does it take for you to swallow your pride?
Prayer: Dear God, let me be quick to swallow my pride. Break the pride in me that rebels at receiving. Teach me to be a generous giver and a genuine receiver. And when I do swallow my pride Lord, let me see and know the gifts you give. Amen.
The Story of Jesus washing the disciples' feet: John 13: 1-20