Let God become your helper!
By Alan Wright — March 01, 2019
Christianity isn’t about you becoming God’s helper; it’s about God becoming your helper.
Today’s Text: “Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.’” (John 13:8, ESV)
Jesus called the Holy Spirit “the Helper” (John 16:7, ESV).
Don’t just read past that name, “the Helper.” It’s too shocking. The Greek word, “paracletos,” means “someone who comes alongside to help.” Most religious people think of themselves as God’s helpers, but God thinks of Himself as our helper. Wow.
The disciples were in Jerusalem for the Passover along with countless others who had made the pilgrimage to celebrate the feast. After gathering for the meal, as was customary, the disciples reclined at the table (leaning on their left elbows, with their legs and feet stretched away from the table). If a home had servants or slaves, one of them would show hospitality by washing the dirty feet of the guests. In general, whoever was considered lowest in the social hierarchy would be the foot washer. But, in this case, there was no servant or slave, so Jesus took the towel and the basin.
What made it startling (and, in some ways appalling) was not just how nasty the disciples’ feet probably were but how undeserving were the people represented by those feet. There was a tax collector in the crowd (they were despised as traitors). There were some unsophisticated fishermen in that room. James was boastful. Philip had little faith. Peter walked on water for a bit then sank. And, of course, Judas was there to dine.
These are the men who will refuse to stand with Jesus when He is paraded before a bogus court. These are the disciples who are going to fall asleep in Gethsemane when Jesus pleads with them to pray. These are the cowards who won’t be there when Jesus carries His cross. They will be noticeably absent while Jesus suffocates on the cross. And after Jesus is killed, they will be hiding for fear of the Jews.
No, the disciples’ problem wasn’t dirty feet; it was the grime in their souls.
When Jesus came to Peter, the man named “the Rock” at first refused. “You shall never wash my feet,” he declared defiantly. In a society built on the principles of shame and honor, it was unthinkable to allow someone “higher” to wash the feet of someone “lower.” Peter thought he was honoring Jesus by refusing His help. But Peter was wrong. If Peter wouldn’t let Jesus wash his feet, how would the disciple ever let Jesus wash his heart? The key to salvation is to let Jesus wash you. The key to abundant life is to let the Holy Spirit help you. You’re not his helper; He’s yours. And that’s the Gospel!