Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I
Did Jesus Wash the Feet of His Disciples?
And if Jesus didn’t wash the feet of his disciples, would it have made his Holy Thursday message on service and humility invalid for you as a Christian? Have you ever asked yourself if every story you have heard from the Bible did take place, or better said, happened as they were reported? Let’s take the washing of the feet, for example.
· Why on earth no other evangelist talked about it except the author of John’s Gospel?
· Should we think that it was not very important in the eyes of Matthew, Mark, and Luke?
· Why did they ignore such a beautiful part of Christ’s teaching entirely?
· Could it be that the three evangelists did not see it happen, or could it also be that it took place in another circumstance different from the last supper reported in the synoptic gospels?
· Did the author of John’s gospel make it up or he simply remembered Christ’s last supper in a (distorted form) different light? Compare John 13:1–20 to Matthew. 26:17–30, Mark 14:12–26, and Luke 22:7–38.
These and many other questions are those we dare not engage in for the fear of doubting our own beliefs. But should we keep on closing our eyes to such disturbing questions? I think not. We should not be afraid to accept that there are many things we cannot fully grasp in the scriptures. Maybe because we do not really need to understand them literally.
The author of the fourth Gospel, many scholars agree today, was not an immediate follower of Christ. He was, unfortunately, not John the Apostle, they say. For these scholars, his writing is not an ocular account, but a retelling of Christ’s life and history in line with the reality of the author’s Christian community. However, the real question is: does it mean that he invented his stories? Maybe not, but he might not have recorded them as he would have done it if he took note of the events as they occurred. And no one believes anymore that John the Apostle was knowledgeable enough to have recorded the events the fourth Gospel recounts.
And this could be said of the other Gospels and many (other parts) of our sacred books Brief, though the form might not be exact, the teachings are valid and unquestionable. Difficulties only arise once we begin to analyze or (re) interpret the texts.