In John 12, Mary anoints Jesus. Actually, more specifically, she anoints the feet of Jesus. And then proceeds to wipe his feet with her hair. Mary is washing the feet of Jesus. Judas protests, saying the money could be used for something else. And Jesus says, “For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
In John 13, Jesus gets up from dinner, and washes his disciples feet. He begins to wash the disciples feet, and when he comes to Peter, Peter protests. He says, “You [Jesus] shall never wash my feet.” Jesus responds, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
There are similarities between these two scenarios. One most striking similiarity, is that feet washing gets associated with humility. In the case of Mary, her humility turns to adoration and worship of Jesus. In John 13, Jesus’ humility is so striking, because he is the one deserving of glory and honour.
But equally interesting are the responses to the feet washing. Judas protests! He says the act is essentially senseless! A waste! And in John 13, Peter protests! Again, to have Jesus wash his feet is senseless! Ridiculous idea!
And Jesus response in both situations is equally fascinating. To Judas, Jesus hints that by Mary washing his feet, she understands the significance of who Jesus is. She understands that exalting Jesus is far more important than anything else on earth. And in John 13, Jesus’ response to Peter, is that even in the magnitude of who Jesus is, the washing of the feet is an invitation into the ministry of the believers.
You see, if I were to sum up these two episodes it would be, love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.
Mary, understanding who Jesus is, loved him completely. Pouring even her most expensive perfume out before him. And then Jesus, in the washing of the disciples feet, demonstrates that to follow Christ, means to serve and love your neighbour. This is why in verse 34 and 35 he says
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The take home point here is actually verse 35. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Your love for one another, spurred on by the love you’ve received from Christ, demonstrates to the world the magnitude of who Christ is. Our love for God and the love of our neighbours should be a deep and radical kind of love. It is a transformative love. It is the kind of crazy love that pours out expensive perfume at the feet of Christ. It’s the kind of love that has you washing the feet of your neighbours.
What are the ways you can demonstrate God’s love this week? As followers of Christ, we are called to show crazy love to our neighbours. A deep love, that challenges the conventions of this world.
These were some thoughts from our current series The Remarkable Life of Jesus and our Strong and Courageous Life in Him. The message from John 13 is available here, and all our previous messages are available on the Sunday messages page.
I’ve now also added a few questions as a short Bible study for you to reflect on this week’s message and passage. It’s available on the Sunday messages page.