“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me” (John 13:20). Our Lord says these words after having washed the feet of the disciples. What He has done for them is an example. He says, “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13:15).
This washing is often seen as a call to service, and certainly that is true. However, there is much more. When a guest arrived at a Jewish home, water was offered to wash away the dust and dirt of the journey. Our Lord not only affords the disciples this expected hospitality but goes beyond what is required. He drops to the floor and washes their feet Himself. He is doing a task that even the lowliest slave would have considered beneath him.
The disciples are to do likewise. They are our Lord’s closest followers. They are being welcomed into His Body, which will ultimately manifest itself in the Church. Our Lord will “send” them, just as the Father has sent Him (cf. John 13:20). They must be willing to do what He will do.
To be our Lord’s worthy apostles, the ones sent, they must imitate Him in everything. The humiliating gesture of washing the feet is a symbol of what is to come—the crucifixion. There on the cross our Lord will be disgraced. There on Calvary He will humble Himself in such a way as to fulfill the Sacred Scriptures (cf. John 13:18). So the disciples are being welcomed and challenged with a mission to follow Him in every respect, even to die a sacrificial death. Following the Lord is a total commitment.