In this chapter Jesus reminds his disciples of the one commandment he has shared with them: to love one another as he loved them. He also shares about his soon departure and his successor who would take care of them. He is talking in particular to those who cannot yet follow him or meet him on the inner planes.
As Beas explains it “washing of the feet is a symbol of humility and meekness.” By washing the feet of each disciple Jesus shows humility and equality. At the same time he asks his disciples to help each other on the path. Beas says that “all the initiates belong equally to the fold of the one good shepherd and should be kind, understanding and helpful to one another in the time of need. … Jesus simply means helping others to stand on their feet, encouraging them by our own example to make the effort, for each one must make his own effort on the path.”
Reading this passage I was reminded of the countless times I felt supported by my fellow travellers. I also wonder what the word ‘supportive’ truly means to me. Kindness seems to be the main theme when it comes to supporting another person in their efforts of breaking free from their personal stories and karmic bondages. However, in my personal experience, I learnt the most and I appreciated those the most who were not only kind but fair and honest with me. We all fool ourselves to a certain degree in order to maintain an image we treasure about ourselves. Often though, this image is not the truth but a limited version of who we truly are. I believe that a true friend is not only kind but sincere. I, personally, find it challenging to attest to others’ self-delusion that often hinders the issues one must face in order to become free. At the same time, I agree that one must be humble and consider the other person his/her equal when supporting them in their spiritual endeavours.
“Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”
Beas explains what a beautiful mystic message this passage above bears by saying “Unless the Master washes away our sins, we cannot merge in him, and cannot go back to the Father. But when we do the spiritual exercises according to his instructions, we clear our karmas, we get rid of all our sins. … we become pure … Then we are part of him who has merged in the Father.”
“Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.”
Beas nicely explains what Jesus is saying here ” Since you are attached to the Word, you are in the process of being cleansed … , but you have yet to make a lot of spiritual progress before you can become absolutely pure and fit to merge in the Word, the Holy Ghost, the real form of the Master within you.
“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. ”
Beas reminds us that his love is not based on personal or physical attraction that people often mistakenly call love. “A person who has spiritual love, loves everybody and not just a few people.”
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Beas explains that, here Jesus reminds the disciples to be a living example of the Master’s teachings. Showing example is always a stronger proof than any professing. There is so much truth in this statement. The Church is somewhat a bad example, there is so much preaching and threatening going on whereas true prophecy travels via best practices rather than harsh words.
Words are important to me, I perceive, understand, and integrate the world through my mental faculties. At the same time, I am very aware that words simply do not convey the message as profoundly as a personal experience can. One can only try to provide inspiration through the power of the words but one can only understand the true meaning of the word by experiencing it, literally.
At the end of the chapter, Jesus reminds us by what he is sharing with Peter that every disciple must reach implicit faith in God. We are tested many times throughout our journey Home. We may mentally believe that we have unquestionable faith but in the face of a threat we may realize how shallow our love and faith actually is.
“Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.”
Jesus is not trying to shame Peter, he only reminds him how weak his faith is just yet.
From this chapter I learn about the importance of being cleaned off our sins and the depth of our faith in the Loving. Originally, I thought that the ‘feet washing’ was to teach us about humility and equality. I was amazed to learn that it also meant the act of cleansing of our sins without which we cannot progress in our journey. I would also like to add that the fact that it was Jesus who washed the disciples’ feet made me realize that it is the Holy Spirit that washes away our sins so we can eventually enter the Kingdom. Regarding the disciples’ washing each others’ feet, I would say that it is a beautiful representation of true support through humility and acceptance.