Occasionally, if you watch closely, you may notice an action occurring during a otherwise normal situation that makes you stop and see a kingdom truth. This happened the other night before our first high school football scrimmage of the season. A player came running to the sidelines, calling “Coach, coach, coach!” while motioning for the strength coach to approach. Without hesitation, the coach ran toward the player, kneeled before the young man and tied the senior football player’s shoes! Why would a high school football player need a coach to tie his shoes? Why would a coach humble themselves to perform such an menial task?
The background story is...last year during the initial scrimmage this player broke his thumb. Although he was cleared to play with the cast, he was unable to tie his shoes before most of the subsequent games, so one of our coaches would tie his cleats for him.
This year the player is older, stronger but in a new position and not as confident in his abilities. One thing he did not want to change is the untied shoe routine. Although, I had watched the encounter countless times before, this time I saw with fresh eyes. Tears began to fill my eyes as I watched this demonstration of love and sacrifice unfold amidst all the multitude of people, the celebrations and preparations occuring around them before the start of the game. I was't watching a football player and his coach; I saw Christ washing Peter's feet.
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.” John 13:5-7 NIV
We have heard topical sermons on the character traits of Peter. He was a fisherman, probably having a large, sturdy physique with a proclivity to speak and act before he thought. Christ washed the disciples' feet as a demonstration of love and sacrifice. Our LORD knew what was before Him while also knowing what difficulties were before these men, who would be continuing His work. Jesus warned Peter that he would denounce Him that very same evening, although Peter adamantly denied his weakness. One morning following His resurrection, Christ makes breakfast for His disciples after their dismal night of fishing.
Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No."
And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish...
Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught." Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. John 21:5-11
John chapter 21 states seven men went fishing. When Peter realized Christ was on the shore, he bailed out of the boat leaving the remaining six men, who "were not able to" bring in the "multitude of fish." When Christ told them to bring in the fish they had caught, Peter "dragged the net" with 153 large fish from the boat by himself! Although Peter was physically strong, Christ was preparing him for future battles. A man who would crumble when questioned about his friendships or draw a sword when challenged could not properly serve the world for his LORD.
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. John 13:12-17 NIV
The player's beloved coach came out of the bleachers without hesitation. The coach knew the player was not struggling with untied shoes, he needed encouragement to do what he did not think he could or believe he was ready to accomplish. In service to her student, she knelt and began to tie the shoes while blessing him to be the man God created him to be: strong and courageous. Few saw the encounter and fewer heard the words between coach and player, but forever the player will remember that his coach believes in him. More importantly he was reminded that he is a unique creation, and Christ is his strength and rear guard. In the future, when this player is called to do what is difficult, when he falls flat on his face in defeat, he will believe he can get up, pull up his brothers, and overcome the obstacles because his coach knelt to tie his untied shoes.
Holy Father God, You in Your infinite grace and mercy have placed amazing people in the lives of our children. As parents we release our children into Your hands to be shaped and molded according to Your plans and purposes; we know You will provide teachers and mentors to "coach 'em up" our students. We humbly come before You to ask for an abundance of blessings for these educators who sacrificially love our children, even as Christ loved Peter and the Church. May You provide for their every need, fill their cups to overflowing, and may they receive encouragement from the parents of their students, instead of criticism. Please help each teacher have understanding and love for their students, such that each child may find amazing strength and encouragement to bring in a multitude of fish for Your glory. Thank You, Adonai for the ability to see Your fingerprints on the lives of our precious children. In the precious name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Thank you for untied shoes. Amen.