6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
Peter, one of the three closest disciples of Jesus, was considered to have been the oldest of the twelve. Most pictures of the last supper depicts all the disciples as older men whilst the most likely scenario would be that they were teenagers from the ages of around 13 to 19 with John being the youngest.
Peter put a lot of responsibility on himself. As the oldest, there was this feeling that he had to lead by asking the most questions and provide the best answers. He was to lead by example, so he had to be the most wise. Though, Peter always seemed to hit or miss when it came to taking the lead with his answers to the questions that Jesus asked. For example, in John 6:68-69, Peter answered Jesus’ question in a good way, recognizing that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Then in Matthew 16:22-23, Peter tried to rebuke Jesus when He told his disciples about His future death on the cross. That went so well that Jesus told Peter to, “Get behind me, Satan!”
It doesn’t gets any easier for Peter. He would later deny Jesus three times (John 13:38) and then be told that he would be crucified like Jesus was (John 21:19). At the same time, Jesus would restore Peter three times. Through this, Peter would become the leader of the church and would give one of the most known and recognized sermons in Acts 2. He would be a pillar to the spread of Christianity throughout the known world.
There is something beautiful about Peter. He was never afraid to speak out, to be wrong, and to try and lead. He had many faults, and yet, he lived a life dedicated to serving his Savior and to spread the Word of God throughout the entire world. Peter is a perfect example of how God uses imperfect people, like you and I.
I see the conversation of Peter and Jesus in these verses as a want of Peter to be worthy of Jesus’ calling. To be a worthy disciple and not have to lean on Jesus serving him. He wanted to be an example to the rest. Instead we see Jesus showing Peter how he should lead, that he is not greater than the rest of the disciples. He had to serve the least to become the greatest. This was an important lesson of leadership that Jesus was showing.
Peter needed to know how to be served in order to serve.
Jesus, took Peter, an insecure teenager, and made him into something great. A man full of mistakes, but yet, so full of passion and courage. This story is such a great reminder for me, that no matter all my own faults and mistakes, that God will still use me and mold me. That I should not be afraid to fail or fall down, because the love of my Savior is greater than the breadth of my sins.
Find courage today that God is not mad at your failures. We are not meant to be perfect, we are only meant to keep trying. Our love for Jesus will carry us through and help us become more like Him. No matter our mistakes, it is how we get back up and try again that matters. Peter writes this very thing in his last letter to the churches.
Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with [Jesus].2 Peter 3:15
Make every effort…
Peter never gave up.
Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again.C.S. Lewis
Father, thank you for being patient with me through my mistakes. Help me to see that I am precious in your eyes, that no matter my faults, you will show your glory through me. I pray that I can be bold like Peter and be willing to step out, even if I may be wrong at times. Show me how I can be more like you in all that I do. Thank you Father. In the name of Jesus, Amen.