Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Create in me a clean heart..."

"Do you realize what I have done for you?"

I can imagine the night when Peter sat down for the Seder with Jesus. The stuffy warmth of the upper room full of conversation, prayer and song, and in the midst of it all, a torrent of emotions.

Judas' impending betrayal. The devotion and zeal of the Eleven. Jesus' fear, pain and doubt.

And I can imagine the awestruck hush that settled over that room when, moved by love, the Messiah stooped down to wash the feet of the one that would deny him the very next day.

Can you imagine it? By then Peter knew the truth about Jesus, but didn't quite grasp its full implications. He knew that he had been named the Rock, but didn't understand what that would mean.

And now the Christ was condescending to him?

Peter's reaction to this gift — vehement refusal — rang familiar in my heart. "But why?" the both of us seem to think incredulously, "Why are you doing this? This shouldn't be!"

Yet Jesus did it anyway. He washed Peter clean knowing full well everything that would transpire in mere hours between them.

He wanted to set a precedent. Serve even when you are no longer served. Love without limits. Give without expectation. Forgive before the apology, or better yet, forgive even before the sin.

His is a radical, earth-shattering, life-altering love that offends our sense of justice. With Jesus, we never get what we deserve.

Or perhaps we do. In the midst of our grit and grime, sin and shame, failure and floundering, we are still children of the God who loves us with immeasurable depth.

And he will continue to wash us clean. All we have to do is ask.

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