Jesus washed the feet of his disciples (John 13:5), and then he explained to them the union of humility with the Kingdom of God (how it reveals God in flesh). In that explanation, he said some enigmatic, wonderful and necessary things about prayer and how he would grant what we ask:
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. John 14:14
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16
What does all of this mean? Are we given a blank check to get anything we might ask for? Is Jesus as easily misunderstood at this point as when he said, “eat my flesh” (John 6:53)? Surely his disciples had to try and make sense of what Jesus meant.
We are like the first disciples; we too are called to wash feet. In foot washing, we are going to ask for that which Judas could not ask for: Help in seeing how it is that serving is Christ-like precisely because it is God-like. When Jesus tells us to ask for what we want, we need to imagine that we are in his place, dying to serve others, and therein replicating the divine life.
As we live the life of dying, then we discover that we need to ask for something — and Jesus says he will give it. In dying for the glory of God, we will discover the answered prayer. When we are losing our lives in order to extend the kingdom of Christ, we will know what it is that we need. And God will give it.
We will ask for the water basins to wash feet; we will ask for towels to dry feet; we will ask for water. We will ask for the feet that we are to wash. We articulate and replicate Jesus by doing what God does: giving up our lives in service to others. In this, we need help — we need God himself to invade our hearts and minds so that we might live the dying life. We need the Holy Spirit to take up residence in us (John 14:2,23). Only then are we going to willingly reproduce the life of Christ.
To live the dying life, we need help. Indeed, we need the Helper.
Jesus said if we ask, he will give. Great. Now I ask you: What do dying people ask for?
What equipment do we need in order to lose our lives for the Glory of Christ? Do we need a new Hummer SUV? Do we need a 401K and stocks? Do we need to be out of debt? Do we need fancy clothes and nice furniture? What do we need? For when we realize what we need, that we will ask for.
We need tomb clothing. We need the clothes of servants. We need the ride of the servant and the bank account of the pauper. The kingdom of God is available to those who have nothing, and it advances where death is happening. What we need is the Holy Spirit and a right view of the Kingdom of God, so that in dying, we won’t become confused and think we have followed the wrong Messiah. We need the treasure of heaven which is the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of God. We need the wisdom of God which enables us to count it all joy when we face trials of various kinds.
We need the Spirit to help us to look beyond the American Dream and the blind rush to accumulate stuff for our ourselves and for our kids. We need to see beyond the good job, the perfect house and the ideal family, and spy the Kingdom of God as it really is, coming to us, as it does, in the shape of a cross. And on the other side of the cross is the resurrection so that losing this life we gain it back. We need resurrection vision. We need the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the ultimate realities that are already revealed in his book.
Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24.
Â See also: Jesus Washed Feet