On a regular night, many years ago, a simple man and his simple friends gathered for dinner. The friends talked and laughed. They argued and teased one another. And right there–in the middle of it all–the simple man did something simply extraordinary. Rising quietly from the dinner table, he picked up a towel and a bowl. He knelt before his friends and, one by one, he took their sweaty, dust-covered feet into his calloused carpenter hands. He rinsed them in the water and gently patted them dry.
The Cleaner cleaned the filth from his friend whose feet had been used, only a few hours earlier, to walk into another room. A room where he had traded trust for treasure, friendship for fortune. A room where he sealed his fate as ‘the betrayer.’
The Cleaner wiped the dirt from his friend whose feet would stand outside, only a few hours later, warming himself by a fire. Hiding in the shadows of night, the one who had been cleaned would assemble with accusers and declare that he never even knew the One who had cleaned him. Three times he rebuffed their accusations, sealing his fate as the ‘denier.’
The Cleaner cleansed the feet of his friends who would choose to run and hide as he endured unspeakable abuse and torture. They would ultimately choose to save themselves rather than defend the One who chose before the foundations of Earth to save them all; sealing their fate as ‘the abandoners.’
Mysteriously, The Cleaner cleaned them all anyway. 12 friends. 24 feet. One incredible act of selfless service and ridiculous love.
The days that followed their cleansing were filled with atrocities that are almost unimaginable. False accusations, illegal trials, and one innocent Cleaner soiled by a guilty verdict…sentenced to torture and death. Six hours of agony. He spoke only a few, well-chosen words, not in self-defense or explanation—only ones that would connect-the-dots back to words spoken hundreds of years before.
Finally, the darkness of death fell like a lead weight upon the earth. Cold, empty death wrapped itself around The Cleaner and swaddled Him as tightly as His mother once had. Darkness filled the inside of the tomb and overflowed into the broken hearts of the ones who had been cleaned.
I’ve felt that cold and emptiness before. Brokenness and broken-heartedness are no strangers to me. Like the others, I have been much the same: a betrayer, a denier, an abandoner. Chapters of their stories read much like my own. Our pages display different stories, but all have similar themes: fear, loneliness, sorrow, selfishness, pride, and shame. Oh, the things we are ashamed of…Oh, the things I am ashamed of…..
But my ending changed the day I just said ‘yes.’ And the longer I study their stories and the stories of many others just like us the more I see it glaring back at me—how each ending is virtually indistinguishable from the others. Perhaps this is because none of us dared to pen them ourselves. We left the final words to be authored by The Cleaner. We handed our manuscripts of brokenness, shame, pride, and selfishness to Him and He wrote their conclusions in blood; each final word identical to the one before it: VICTORIOUS.
The sun is setting now, but tomorrow morning the Light of dawn will break and we will celebrate the final word in each of our stories…the final word in The Cleaner’s story. Darkness doesn’t win. Death doesn’t win. No one and nothing can defeat The Cleaner or any of his imperfect, soiled friends because The Light burst that tomb wide open and The Cleaner walked out victorious!! And when He made his grand exit, He offered a new promise to each and every one of us. It’s a promise for any misfit like me who just says yes. The betrayers. The abandoners. The deniers. The hypocrites. The liars. The gossips. The too-afraiders. No one is excluded from the promise. Man or woman. Old or young. Black or white. Gay or straight. No one gets left out. Everyone who just says yes gets a new ending….that blood-word will stain the final page of our epilogues and it can never be erased. Every one of our stories gets to end with the word ‘victorious.’
The Cleaner kneels before each of us ready to clean the filth from our hearts, our minds, our mouths, and our lives. He waits patiently for each of us until we are ready to surrender one foot, then the other, into his strong, gentle carpenter hands. What happens after that moment is between you and Him. But that moment is for you. And that moment is because of Him. I’ve never regretted my ‘yes’ and I’m willing to bet you’ll never regret yours….
If you’ve never said yes, tomorrow is for you. Just say yes.
If you’ve said yes before, tomorrow is for you. Just say yes, again.
Whatever you do, don’t let your moment with Him pass you by. Surrender your feet. Surrender your fear. Surrender your soul.
Just. Say. Yes.