6 Then He comes to Simon Peter. He says to Him: “Lord do You wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied and said to him: “At this moment you do not understand what I am doing, but after these things you will know.”
8 Peter said to Him: “You should never wash my feet.” Jesus replied: “If I should not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him: “Lord not only my feet, but also my hands and head.”
Many have tried to determine who was the first to have their feet washed by Jesus. We cannot know, since all John recorded is that Peter was obviously not the first one.
However, John has recorded for us only one of the disciples’ reaction to what Jesus was doing. It was Peter who challenged Jesus over what He was doing. Those who went before Peter may have thought the same as Peter, but for some reason they kept quiet. All those who followed Peter would have the benefit of hearing what Jesus said to Peter, and so they submitted themselves to being served by the Son of God, their Lord and Master.
Every word of Peter’s challenge is filled with emphasis and significance, which does not translate that well into English.
- First of all Peter addresses Jesus as Lord. He gives to Jesus the highest possible title. He acknowledges the superiority of Jesus over himself, and the other disciples. We also call Jesus our Lord. In this we recognise that He rules over us; that He has our life in His hands; and that He is in command of every aspect of our life.
- He uses the word ‘You’. We must try and understand the emphasis that Peter would put on this word. We might want to put ‘You’ in capital letters and make them bold: YOU. In this Peter recognises that Jesus was doing a servants menial job. It is something that Peter would have regarded as beneath himself to do, and certainly beneath the status of Jesus. There is a shock in the tone of Peter. It was a shock to Him that Jesus should even have considered washing their feet.
During the First World War there was a poster that was used to recruit young men into the army. The caption was: Your country needs YOU. The emphasis was on the word ‘you’. This word was a lot larger than the other writing on the poster.
Peter emphasized ‘YOU’ to show His distaste at what Jesus was doing for him.
There is always a reason for what Jesus does for us.