So Jesus in the Gospel of John washes his disciple’s feet, and it is played both seriously — to demonstrate the upside-down Kingdom love of Jesus — and for laughs. Peter (as normal) just does not understand and is horrified at first that Jesus would consider setting aside his privilege to do the menial duty of footwashing. Jesus insists. I can imagine him smiling, waving the rag in the air, the basin of water on the floor.
But — did it have to be footwashing? At my church we enact it, those who choose come forward and put their feet into water and a brother or sister dries the feet, and then switch. It is beautiful. It is silent (to be honest, maybe there is music and I’m just always in my head and don’t hear it) and a bit spooky and a bit of joyful tension sort of like a child on Christmas Eve. In the morning it is going to be great, it is going to Christmas. Only the opposite is going to happen. On Good Friday, Jesus will die.
Just as in the story, it is action re-created to show love that is both profound and meaningful and inherently funny and awkward.
We have to wait for Sunday for resurrection. But Jesus has to die, for some reason: for us, for reasons of atonement, for theologies of all sort. It is the science fiction fan in me that is like: God couldn’t find a better way to heal the world of sin than to kill His Son? Couldn’t He just, you know, forgive?
And of course God does forgive, has forgiven, could forgive, has remained steadfast in love with us and all creation, and the clear answer isn’t that Jesus had to die to satisfy some angry God, like a god of a volcano or a dragon with a princess.
Maybe just like the footwashing — REALLY feet? It couldn’t be hands? It couldn’t be “wash each other’s faces” — maybe dying on the cross was that important? Maybe Jesus had to die for us, not just wash our smelly, awkward, important feet, so that we could see the upside-down Kingdom love of God with absolutely no questions, no exceptions?
God loves us enough to bleed and die for us.
So let’s love each other, suffer with and for each other, as much as God loves us.