Resilient | Exposed

posted by Ryan Stallcup | Apr 13, 2022

What is the dirtiest you have ever been?

My mind goes to a night when I was in the 4th grade. My friends and I discovered that sliding down the hill next to my house was a lot of fun, particularly if we got up a running start and picked up some speed before hitting the ground. It was great fun, and we were definitely a bit dirty, but nothing out of the ordinary for playing in the yard. But then we started to notice a bit of a smell. That’s when we realized that this was apparently the same hill that my neighbors let their dogs use the bathroom on. This brought a new depth to our dirtiness, and a new level of shame to the conversation to be had with my parents when we went back into the house.

These verses come to us from a time and place where feet were often really dirty. Travel took place on foot, and while sandals would keep the soles of feet protected, they did not keep them clean. Because of this, foot washing was a common practice, particularly right before meals. This is not what catches Peter off guard in verse 6. He’s caught off guard by who is doing it.

Maybe it’s just me, but some of the moments in my life where I have felt the dirtiest didn’t have anything to do with the hill I just rolled down. The moments when I’ve done something I knew was wrong but somehow just couldn’t keep myself from it. The moments when I knew I needed to act but failed to. The moments when I hurt someone who I loved.

I don’t think Peter’s resistance to Jesus washing his feet has as much to do with his external dirt as it does with his internal shame. Peter’s mind goes to his past and the moments when he came up short. Maybe it was when he spoke too soon, or maybe it was when he began to doubt while out on the water. Whatever it is, it makes him feel unworthy of Jesus serving him. He’s just too dirty.

What Peter doesn’t realize, and what so many of us fail to realize regularly, is that Jesus sees as more than the sum of our best and worst moments. He doesn’t love us for what we do but for who we are. And when we feel exposed for what we’ve done, we aren’t met with judgment, but with grace. We haven’t gotten ourselves into any amount of dirt that Jesus can’t wash us clean from.

But the path to being clean is coming clean.

Being honest and open about our struggles can be incredibly hard. I know I can be tempted to believe that it would just be easier to keep it all to myself and not burden anyone else with my problems. But when we open up and are fully honest with Jesus about our struggles, we open ourselves to healing. And when we open up to others, we give each other the chance to realize that we aren’t alone in our struggles and don’t have to fight in isolation.

When we went inside from our sliding down the now infamous hill next to my house, we were met by my gracious parents with towels for showers and fresh clothes. My mom washed all of our clothes for us. My dad just laughed. But the hard part was gathering up the courage to go in the house. Once inside, we were met with grace.

When we feel exposed for what we’ve done, Jesus meets us there and washes us clean from whatever dirt we bring with us.