Our portion this week in the B’sorah [gospel] is Yokhanan 13. This begins the telling of the Pesakh Seder, the last one before Yeshua was executed. This morning, I am conveying something that I’ve always known, but that I saw more vividly this morning in reading. I’m wondering who else has had a “Selah” moment about this, and I hope it registers with someone whose faith might be ‘challenged’ of late.
The chapter begins with “Now before Khag Pesakh…” and tells us that Yeshua understood, before that night, that this year was going to be His last Pesakh [Passover]. We should all understand that He knew this, because He ‘proceeded forth and came out of His Father,’ and that His Father commanded Him to do this very thing. It was for the purpose of dying in our place that He came. Matti explains that He knew this a full two days before Pesakh [Matti 26:1] He further explains that Yehudah went to the Kohanim to sell Yeshua out during the four days before Pesakh. Yokhanan Markos reports the same, saying that Yehudah acted after Yeshua was anointed by the woman, before Pesakh. Luka also reports that Yehudah acted before the feast. Yokhanan simply compresses those four days into this one phrase. But, the very NEXT sentence is what struck me: ‘When supper ended, HaSatan put into the heart of Yehudah to betray Him.’ We all know that. Yokhanan, however, goes deeper into the details of the Pesakh, and shows us that Yeshua disrobed, put on a towel, and washed the feet of His Talmidim right after supper. [Talmidim = Torah Students/Disciples. ‘Disciples’ was NOT a new, greek idea; All Rabbis had Torah Students, or Talmidim. Pay attention to what Yeshua says in this conversation] The statement by Yokhanan, ‘after supper’, is very, very important. Here, Yokhanan is summarizing the customs, whereas the other three give more details on the customs, and leave out the details of the conversations, summarizing what Yokhanan fully elucidates.
After supper, but before the Seder ended, Yeshua said something while washing the feet of His Talmidim: “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me “Rabbeinu” and “Adoneinu”; and what you say is well, for I am. If I then, your Adon and your Rabbi, have washed your feet, how much more should you wash one another’s feet? For I have given you this as an example, so that just as I have done to you, you should also do.” This was unheard of, for a Rabbi to wash the feet of his Talmidim. For a Rabbi to disrobe completely in front of men, and dress as a servant, and ‘lower’ himself, was a violation of protocol. “Rabbi” means ‘my great one,’ and they were given an abundance of respect. This was a departure from the norm, when Yeshua demonstrates what true service to Elohim is: love and humility before all, no matter one’s station. This is what makes Yeshua our ONLY Rabbi! He’s the ONLY one who deserves the title, because He is the only Rabbi EVER to die for his Talmidim! The attitude of accepting His own death for others was already in Him, seen in the first verses of this passage.
Looking further into the book of Yokhanan, we get to the part that really sunk in for me this morning. ‘After supper’ is a Pesakh detail: the ‘third cup’ is the “Cup After Supper’ in a Jewish Pesakh Seder. Clearly, it was the ‘Cup After Supper’ that Yeshua offered as the symbol of His blood, the renewal of the Brit [covenant] according to Yirme-Yahu 31:31-33. Luka actually names this cup as the moment Yeshua shared the cup ‘In His Blood.’ It was AFTER this cup that Yehudah left the Pesakh Seder to go get the men who had paid him 30 pieces of silver for Yeshua’s life. The other accounts do not even report Yehudah’s departure! Have you ever noticed that? Only Yokhanan does. But, Yokhanan gives a detail the others do not. There is a part of the meal which has come to be called the “Affikomen”. This is the bread that is dipped AFTER the third cup! So, supper comes first, with two cups of wine being blessed during the supper. After supper, a third cup is blessed and partaken of, and then the Affikomen is blessed and dipped, and everyone partakes of it. It is seen as the last piece of Matzah, a ‘dessert’, to be long enjoyed, meditated on, to ruminate over the whole meal in an effort to remember it, almost stretching out the meal with it. Later, Jews decided to wrap this piece of Matzah in a cloth, hide it, and have the kids search for it together. The child that finds it receives a small token of a promise for a large gift at a later date. The Affikomen is a CLEAR picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua, complete with being searched for and found, and giving a deposit of the Ru’akh and the promise of resurrection at a later date! And it is AFTER THIS that Yehudah leaves the Seder!
The point of all of this is that Yeshua wittingly washed Yehudah’s feet, even though HE KNEW he had ALREADY sold Him out! Could you do that? Could you so lovingly take into your hands the soiled feet of the person who turned you over to death, and wash his feet, while you are dressed as a servant, humbled before him? Could you do such a kindness to such a one? Does this not prove that Yeshua lived out what He taught: “Love your enemies.”
He washed Yehudah, in spite of the fact that Yehudah’s heart had already betrayed him, which would allow HaSatan to ‘enter him’ AFTER he ate the Affikomen with Yeshua. He washed him, NOT as an attempt to change his mind. But, He washed him as an expression of His love for even those who would not accept Him as the Messiah, the Son of G-d. “He died not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world.” Yeshua died for even the worst of betrayers! He washes them! But, they TURN FROM HIM anyway, forsaking the unleavened bread that He shares with them intimately! Everyone is offered being made clean by Messiah, but not everyone’s heart will accept that act of love.
Yehudah’s name has come to mean “Jew.” NOT because of who he is, but because the Jewish people are descended from and part of the kingdom of Yehudah, the progenitor of that tribe and kingdom. This is Yeshua’s tribe. Among the Talmidim, Yehudah was the closest kin to Him, since Yeshua is also from the tribe of Yehudah! Yeshua washed the quintessential Jew, at Pesakh, who would betray His Rabbi from Heaven, the only person deserving of that title, “My Great One,” to the world’s Rabbis, who would have Him executed. Would it not behoove believers, then, to offer the SAME love to our Jewish people?
I am Jewish. It was unknown to most for the first half of my life, but now it is known. And I ‘look’ Jewish, in the sense that I wear a Kippah and Tzit-tziyot every day. And, for that reason, I suffer persecution. From so-called ‘Christians,’ who profess to believe in the Rabbi Yeshua, and to be His ‘talmid’. Our car was keyed a few weeks ago, and my suspicion is that it is because someone saw us get out of it at a restaurant. My wife and I chose to ‘wash’ whoever did it, by forgiving the infraction, even though we did not see it happen nor know who did it. We cannot affirm it was anti-Semitism that motivated them, but it is likely. Don’t get me wrong. There are some believers who truly do show us kindness, as Jews, even though they do not know we believe in Messiah. But, so many turn away from us, snarl at us, hurl expletives at us, simply because we are Jewish. Many of my Christian ‘friends and brothers’ turned their backs on me as a friend, some of them whom I knew for nearly 20 years, simply because I put on a Magen David, and because I observe His Sabbath. Is that how Yeshua would treat me, were He walking this earth? Is that how He would treat His Jewish people? No.
Yeshua washed the feet of a typical “Jew”, the feet of the very Jew who would betray Him to the tree of shame. And those Rabbis who stood at the base of that tree and mocked Him, He forgave, in their hearing. THAT is the man I follow. THAT is MY RABBI! MY GREAT ONE! The One whose love is bigger than all hate. The One who lives what He says He lives. The GREATEST example of a teacher the world has ever seen.