In New Testament times, the unappealing but necessary task of foot washing was typically done by a servant, someone on the lowest rung of the social ladder. Dinner guests would remove their sandals, their feet soiled from the dusty roads. After their feet had been washed, they would gather to eat by reclining on pallets or couches.
But during one occasion, at a Passover meal attended by Jesus and His disciples, something unusual happened . . . something awkward . . . something uncomfortable.
Jesus disengaged from the meal, and did something no one would ever have expected. Tying a cloth around His waist and taking a basin of water, He began to wash the still soiled feet of each one of His followers. Certainly, this was an unexpected act of love.
We have seen throughout Scripture that not only is God love but also that He loves us. He consistently demonstrated His love toward the nation of Israel, even after they repeatedly disobeyed. In the New Testament, Jesus showed love to His disciples, even when they misunderstood, betrayed, and doubted.
We know that God’s love is not something we deserve. “Even when we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). We have done nothing to earn it. Yet, throughout Scripture, God actively pursues a loving relationship with His creation.
In his book The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer writes,“The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.”
The unexpected nature of God’s love is seen throughout both the Old and New Testaments. In our efforts to understand God’s love, we often compare it to human love. We think of the way a parent loves a child or a groom loves his bride. But these human examples are a mere shadow of divine love.
God’s love is not what we expect. His love is indeed wider, longer, higher, and deeper than we realize. As Paul writes in chapter 3 of his letter to the Ephesians: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (vv.18–19).
When we begin to grasp the love of God—a love that “surpasses knowledge” (v.19)—we are forever changed. We rejoice in the fact that we serve a God who loves us deeply, completely, and in ways that surpass our expectations.