As the disciples sat with Jesus in the upper room at their last Passover supper together, they tried to absorb what He had just told them. The time had come, He had said, for Him to enter His glory and bring glory to His father. He had only a little time left with them, and so He had left them a new commandment– to love each other the way He had loved them.
And Peter, the outspoken one, asked the question for all of them. “Where are you going, Lord?”
Jesus replied, ” You can’t go with Me now, but you will follow Me later.”
“But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you!”
And Jesus answered, “Die for Me? I tell you the truth, Peter– before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know Me.” John 13:36-38 NLT
In this one chapter of John, we find two things about Jesus that are, quite frankly, amazing. The first is His knowledge of His followers– He knew about Judas’ betrayal, and He knew about Peter’s upcoming denial. He knew, in fact, that all of His disciples would desert Him.
And the second thing we discover is that Jesus washed their feet anyway; the man who would betray Him, the man who would deny Him, the other ten who would leave Him alone to face the mob in the Garden of Gethsemane, all of them had their feet washed by Jesus. He loved them, John says, to the end.
Judas left partway through the supper, but Jesus remained with the other eleven, teaching them, praying for them, preparing them for life without His physical presence.
Peter, particularly exemplified Jesus’ words “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” None could doubt that he loved Jesus: if having his feet washed was a sign of being owned by Jesus, he was ready to be washed from head to toe! He was sure that he was ready to die for Jesus, he’d follow Him anywhere!
But Jesus knew Peter’s limitations, and loved him in spite of them. He prayed specifically for Peter, that his faith would not fail. “And when you are converted,” He told Peter, “strengthen your brethren.”