What's So Special About a Towel?

Blog Written By Barbara Keller, March 2016

Blog Written By Barbara Keller, March 2016

So what's so special about a towel?

We use them to dry off, wipe the dirt and mud off our children, or maybe even soak up a spill-they come in handy in many situations. But have you ever thought of a towel as something valuable in your life?

We are in the middle of Holy Week and I wanted to focus on Jesus' time in the upper room with his disciples.

John13:3-17 says that, "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;  so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 
'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.'
Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'
'Then, Lord,' Simon Peter replied, 'not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!'
Jesus answered, 'Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.' For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them. 'You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

What was Jesus really offering his disciples as He washed their feet?

He was teaching about serving, he was teaching about taking the dirt or sin of the day, He was teaching about accepting others where they are, He was teaching about forgiveness.

When Jesus goes to that upper room with his beloved disciples he washes ALL their feet, including that of his betrayer, Judas. He doesn't avoid him but offers him the exact same thing he offers the others.

John 13:21b-28 says" And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

Judas denies he is the betrayer but we see that Jesus knows it's him and tells him so. Judas had accepted the foot washing with the knowledge that he would go to the High Priests and for 30 pieces of silver turn Him into the authorities and Jesus will be crucified. This is a pretty big betrayal!

Have you ever been betrayed? 

If so, you know that betrayal is a tough pill to swallow. It cuts deep to the heart-especially if it is someone close to us who we have loved and trusted. I want you to think about "Who is YOUR Judas?" Who has hurt or betrayed you in a way that has impacted your heart or your life in a significant way and what did you do about it?

 If we go back to the upper room with Jesus and all the disciples we see Jesus knew His betrayer, what he was about to do and that He would suffer and die because of it..yet he offered him a TOWEL.

He offered to wash off the dirt and grime of the day as well as the opportunity to wash his heart clean of sin. Jesus could have tried to change his mind-beg him to make a different choice, but He didn't. He let Judas make his own decision but in His hand was the TOWEL which would have offered him something so much better than the 30 pieces of silver her got.

Let me ask you again, who is YOUR Judas and what have you offered him or her?  Was it harsh words, rejection, silence or...A TOWEL?

 I'd like to share a story of betrayal in my life, it involves my mother.

In Dec. of 2012 I invited my mother come to my house for Christmas (she lives in Lakewood) and got an angry reaction. I became a dumping ground for every perceived or real thing my mother could find to let me know that she was not happy with me and how I had been a terrible person. I was in complete shock as I hadn't done anything that I knew of to offend or hurt anyone in the family and she really would not give me any tangible reasons for her judgement. This was especially difficult as it had only been 6 months since my husband, Kirk's cancer treatment and not one of my family came to visit, send a card, or help with meals. The call ended abruptly with my mother saying she did not want to speak with me again, period. I sent her Christmas present to her but she did not acknowledge me or my family in any way. I did receive a thank you note in which she wrote that she did not want to see or hear from me in any way at anytime.

I was so hurt, devastated, and confused especially since I still couldn't figure out what I had done to deserve complete rejection. 

Every few years my mom has done a kind of dump on me, but this was the first time she shut me out completely. For several months I cried out to God and begged Him to change her her, to help me to understand why or to just do something!

One day as I was praying God spoke to me and said, "Your mother needs peace, pray for her peace."

I was confused, I was the one who needed peace and comfort, really God I am supposed to pray for her peace after what she has done to me? She is the one who hurt me, she is the one who shut me out. God gave me a one word answer "YES". Reluctantly I began to pray for peace for my mom whatever that looked like. What I didn't know at that time was that a friend of hers had invited her to go to church (my mom hadn't been for over 50 years) and she had said yes. God was already working, I just couldn't see it at the time.

At the end of May I got a call from my cousin in Missouri saying my uncle (my mom's only sibling) was in critical condition and needed surgery and would I call my mom. Of course, I said yes but when it came time to pick up that phone I was not sure she would even answer it and I was scared of more rejection, more betrayal. I gave her the message and she was thankful I had called. A few hours later I got another call from my cousin saying they had opened my uncle up and there was too much infection, he would not survive so they closed him up and waited for him to die. I made the second call to my mom knowing this would devastate her. The final call I had to make to her was that he had died, I knew she was hurting and offered to fly out to Missouri with her for the services, she rejected me and it hurt all over again, especially when she ended up driving with my nephew instead.

I saw my mother for the first time in over 6 months at my uncles funeral and hugged her.

I offered her "A TOWEL" to help soothe her pain when what I really wanted to do was ask,"why did you reject me, why do you want to hurt me? What have I ever done to deserve this? "

I could have had someone else make those phone calls, I could have walked away from her at the funeral, I could have retaliated with harsh words of my own BUT Jesus offered Judas a TOWEL and told us we were to do the same, we are to follow His example not our own desires.

When we offer someone a TOWEL we have to do it with an open heart and open hands knowing they have to choose to accept or reject it, just as Jesus gave Judas a choice.

All I could do was offer the TOWEL of love and forgiveness - she had to make the choice to accept it.

I believe God honored what I offered and although the path has not been an easy one I am so thankful I did it. There has been reconciliation, but not total restoration, which is ok. I am just so thankful I offered her the TOWEL when I had the opportunity especially since her health has not been very good in the past 6-8 months. I am thankful she is back in my life. God is always so faithful when we are obedient and He will fill in the gaps of what we need when can't do it on our own. I am so happy she is in a church body and that God has given her the peace she needs.

 So next time you experience betrayal think about Jesus in the upper room and remember He offered a TOWEL to Judas, His betrayer knowing it would cost Him everything so that He could give us everything.

Get your TOWEL out and be prepared to use it whether you feel like it or not because offering the gifts of mercy, forgiveness, or love is what Jesus calls us to do.  


Amber JaworskyComment