In the Lectionary

April 6, Maundy Thursday (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

Would Peter resist having his feet washed by another disciple?

“Unless I wash you, you have no share with me,” Jesus says to Peter after Peter refuses to let Jesus wash his feet. Jesus insists. Jesus washing Peter’s feet is necessary.

The foot washing is followed by a long farewell discourse in which Jesus gives his disciples a final teaching. It’s the same genre as the farewell discourses of Jacob, Joshua, and David. It’s the most similar to Moses’ farewell discourse in Deuteronomy. But Jesus’ final teaching and prayer for his disciples is preceded by a symbolic act. Of all the things that Jesus could do, he chooses foot washing.

A few months ago, morning foot pain had me hobbling to the bathroom and walking awkwardly down the stairs each morning. Generally it was gone by the time I walked my dog. At 54 years old, I figured it was a sign of aging, the beginning of arthritis in my feet, and there wasn’t much to be done. But I’m going on a ten-day, 100-mile backpacking trip in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, and I wanted to be sure there wasn’t something wrong enough with my feet that would cause serious problems on the trip.