Where Are The Peters?

Jn.13:1 -17 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father, Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciple’s feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well.”

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater that the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

There are several wonderful truths in this story. I won’t take time to highlight them all, I will save them for another time. I would like to focus on this reckless, bold, passionate man called Peter. The same one who was going to deny Jesus, the same one who walked on the water, the same one who would experience a life altering sifting process, the same one who Jesus said he would build his church on, the rock.

My perspective on this story is that Peter was just being his bold and passionate self when he told his master, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus kindly and patiently responded with “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” What was it that Peter and the others would understand later? I think humility and servant leadership were primary lessons in this story. Remember that just before the foot washing story is told the story of the disciples arguing about who was the greatest among them was highlighted.

It is said that “pride is the first thing to come and the last to go.” In Peters bold and compulsive actions there was an issue of pride for sure. I do believe that at the core of his heart he wanted with everything he had to please Jesus. If you read Peter’s story, we know that he had a sensitive heart and probably was susceptible to being hurt easily. Jn.21:19

You see most people think of pride as “thinking too high of yourself.” The synonym for pride is the single letter “I.” Me, myself and I! Pride is essentially being self-focused. Yes, it can be thinking too high of yourself, but pride can also be the opposite, thinking too low of yourself. Either way, it’s all about me. Seeing ourselves accurately is seeing ourselves as God sees us. That is sober thinking according to Ro.12:3-8

The outcome of pride is always not good. Pride is the reef your ship will crash into and sink. Pr.11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. God opposes (pushes away) the proud but shows favor to the humble. 1 Pet.5:5

When Peter had the abrupt revelation that Jesus must also wash his feet, he melted and repented right then and there. His next words were, “Not just my feet but my hands and head as well.” Peter was a self-sufficient guy. Besides having dirty feet, Peter was a hard-working fisherman. He was an entrepreneurial businessman. He was used to pulling himself up by his bootstraps and making his own way. Yup, he did life his way! In all of his brash actions in ministry, Jesus knew his heart. He knew that he would need refining and that refining would take place in the sifting process I spoke of in the last lesson. This bold follower was hand-picked by Jesus to be one of Jesus’ greatest investments. At the end of the day, after his pruning, he was a model disciple. Peter did in fact fulfill God’s purpose in his generation.

Humility was seen in Peters life at the moment of this foot washing. His heart was overcome, and he responded with I’m sorry Jesus, I changed my mind. Give me everything you got. That was the heart that Jesus longed to see manifest in Peter. It was this kind of humble heart that would extend grace to others he would encounter throughout the rest of his life. In my mind, Peter was trying to be a fully committed guy doing the will of God. He just could not do that in the flesh. It was God’s grace that enabled him and shaped him to become one of the primary apostles we read about in the book of Acts, which is the historical story of the first church.

Where would we be if Peter had not responded right to God’s humbling and shaping process? His response of, “not just my feet Jesus but my hands and my head” models for all of us what humility and grace looks like. Peter needed Jesus in every part of his life.  So do you and I. Let’s not allow our pride, our selfish thinking, to rob us of God’s gracious plan to love us, shape us, and to use us.

Peter’s life shows that God does the selecting, God does the transforming and God gets all the glory for his masterpieces.

This world needs more men like Peter; this world needs you!

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