Two Bowls of Water
At the end of the life of Jesus, we find two bowls of water. These simple vessels give an incredible insight in how we could live and should live.
At the Last Supper in John 13, the apostles had gathered around a room to eat the Passover Meal. In ancient Middle Eastern homes, they would have been seated on the floor and eating at what appears to us as a very short table. Thus, they were near each others’ feet. At the end of the meal, Jesus put a towel around his waist, got a bowl of water, and commenced to washing the feet of these men.
He washed the feet of the 10 men who would disappear into the night when he was arrested. He washed the feet of Simon Peter, who would deny knowing Jesus three times during that night. He even washed the feet of the betrayer in their midst: Judas Iscariot.
He served them in this act in order to set an example for them… and us.
But then there is a second bowl of water recorded in Matthew 27:21-24. In this story, Jesus has been drug from one trial to another during the night following His arrest. The governor Pilate puts Jesus along with the murdering insurrectionist Barabbas for the crowd of Jews to decide who will escape crucifixion. The crowd demands for Jesus’ execution and Pilate asks in verse 23 “Why? What has he done wrong?” But they want Jesus dead so Pilate takes some water and washes his hand in a symbolic gesture and says, “I am innocent of this man’s blood” (v. 24).
We must decide which bowl of water we will take up each morning. We can choose the bowl of Pilate and wash our hands of the whole mess of life and other people’s needs. The better way is to take up the bowl of Christ and serve.
Pursuing holiness must be done on our hands and knees. Sometimes, it is accomplished while washing the stinky feet of others who will abandon, deny, and even betray.
Adapted from my Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James