"Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." (John 13:8)

This is Jesus' answer to Simon Peter, who said to Jesus as he was washing his disciples' feet:
"No, you shall never wash my feet." (John 13:8)
Jesus' response was stern and clear. If Simon Peter refused Jesus' washing his feet, Jesus would have nothing more to do with him: The Greek word μέρος (meros), translated to "part," can also mean "lot" or "destiny."

Why was it so important that his disciples allow Jesus to wash their feet?

In spiritual learning, there is theoretical knowledge and there is practical knowledge. This is not that different from other things. For example, we may watch baseball on TV and know all the rules, but unless we get on the field and play the game, we will not really know baseball.

Here Jesus was teaching his disciples about humility and service. He was giving them a direct experience of devoted service. Because Jesus was their teacher, and they held him in great respect, his action of washing their feet sent them a clear message - not just theoretically. What was the message?

That Jesus' saw himself as a servant, and wanted them to also see themselves as servants.

Jesus' mission - his coming to this planet, and teachings - was to serve the Supreme Being. This was Jesus' life and what gave him happiness:
"I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
"My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me." (John 7:16)
Jesus was teaching his disciples how they can return to their lost loving relationship with God: through loving service. Jesus wanted his disciples to become loving servants of the Supreme Being and serve all of humanity by passing his teachings on.

Just consider the contrast between this teaching and the path that organized, ecclesiastical sectarian churches have taken. For thousands of years following Jesus' leaving the planet, these organized religious sects have taught that all we have to do is pledge our allegiance to Jesus and accept that he died for our sins, and we can now proclaim we are "born again" and "saved."

When did Jesus teach this? If this were true, why would Jesus have needed to teach anything else? Why didn't he just say: "Wait until I am crucified and you can all be saved by my death"?

Meanwhile, those responsible for supporting and passing along this corrupted teaching - those popes, bishops, cardinals, priests, reverends, ministers and other official (professional) church positions - have concerned themselves with establishing their positions of authority instead of taking up Jesus' message of humbly serving the Supreme Being. Do they even know who God is? This is why they identify Jesus as God: They do not know who the Supreme Being is. This is why they never talk about the Supreme Being in their sermons. Their only concern is salvation.

Salvation is a self-centered concern. It has nothing to do with love of God or loving service to God.

Yet these professional priests, popes, cardinals, bishops, ministers and reverends emphasize salvation as the goal, as they are carefully attired in official church costumes, while collecting salaries in exchange for teaching this doctrine.

Is this the life of service that Jesus was trying to teach his disciples? Is taking a professional teaching position within one of the Christian sects the service that Jesus was communicating to his disciples?

The criteria is quite simple, and Jesus established this criteria for the type of service he was promoting:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
Service means doing someone else's will. If we do our own will, that is not service. That is self-centeredness.

So what are the professional teachers of these sectarian institutions doing today?

They are doing a combination of their own will and the will of those who elect them and appoint them to their professional positions. They are not doing God's will.

How do we know this? Isn't it up to each minister, reverend or priest whether they are doing God's will or not?

If they were doing God's will, they would not be accepting salaries in exchange for their supposed service. They would not be abiding by the will of elected committees or appointees. Doing God's will means doing God's will. It doesn't mean pleasing the congregation, or the deacons, or the bishops, or the cardinals, or anyone else other than pleasing the Supreme Being.

Once a person accepts a salary for preaching, they are no longer associated with Jesus. They are no longer doing God's will.

There is a phrase that is often used to describe such an activity: "Sell out." When a person accepts payment in exchange for their services, they have sold those services. The person or organization who paid for the services now owns those services. This is business, not service.

According to a 2007 report by the Association of Theological Schools, the average tuition for one year for a full-time seminary student was $11,039. Seminary schools are businesses. The teachers who teach at those schools receive salaries in exchange for teaching. In other words, their teachings are paid for by the tuition of the students. For those teachers who are supposedly training the priests, ministers and reverends at the seminaries, this is not service. This is a job. It is business.

After three or four years of paying these teachers to teach them, what do the seminary students learn? They learn how they can now sell their services of teaching ecclesiastical sectarianism in return for a comfortable salary. They learn the business from the masters - the ones who collectively charge $11,000 per student per year for their services.

Money has poisoned the well of these institutions. Did Jesus get paid for his teachings? Did he charge tuition to his students? No. Jesus' taught freely, and gained nothing monetarily from his teachings. And he also strictly told his students not to collect fees for their teaching. And this is why Jesus turned the tables over in the temple and said:
"Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father's house into a market!" (John 2:16)
The word ἐμπόριον (emporion) translated to "market" also means "business." Jesus didn't want the temple - the place that the Supreme Being is to be worshiped within - to become a place of business, where people get paid.

If this is the case, why do ecclesiastical sectarian churches collect money within the building of the church? What is this - the collecting of money? It is turning the church - the place that people are supposed to be teaching and following Jesus' teachings - into a place of business?

And what is this money used for? It is used to pay the priest or reverend and other "professionals" who operate the church. And for this reason, churches have become wealthy institutions. They have turned the supposed worship of Jesus and the Supreme Being into a business - after Jesus himself clearly indicated his displeasure with such a notion.

By accepting and passing on the teachings that come from professional seminaries taught by professional teachers, these priests, ministers and reverends are not representing God, they are representing those professional organizations and those professional teachers employed by those professional organizations. They represent the businesses and businessmen that taught them. And they teach the doctrines taught by them. They do not represent God.

Representing God means representing the Supreme Being, not an institute of professional teachers.

Most of these ecclesiastical sectarian institutions today are based on a form of democracy. The Pope, for example, is elected by a large group of cardinals. This is a political process. While they try to make it seem like the most devoted person is being elected to Pope, it is politics: Which person will adequately represent the church? Who do we like best? It is a popularity contest. And historically, most papal elections have come with significant political wrangling behind the scenes.

Thus, the Pope does not represent the Supreme Being. The Pope represents the cardinals who elected him.

Cardinals are also elected - or appointed, same thing - by groups of bishops. Thus, cardinals do not represent the Supreme Being. They represent the bishops that elected them.

Bishops are also elected officials. They are now elected through a complicated political process that involves other bishops, the pope, and other church officials. This creates a very political process, as it relies on candidates being recommended and then approved.

Priests, ministers, reverends and other official church teachers among the various ecclesiastical church sects are also elected officials. First they are granted their seminary degree by seminary officials after passing the required courses and exams, and submitting to required rituals and paying their tuition.

But then they must be selected (elected) by a committee in order to be hired as a pastor to a particular church or parish. This means pleasing the selection (election) committee of deacons and other church officials.

And how are the deacons elected to their posts? Typically by yet another selection/election process, whereby parishioners, other deacons and/or other church officials get to vote for the deacons - depending upon the denomination.

This is all politics. A person gets to their respective position of influence - whether its deacon, pastor or other church official - within ecclesiastical sectarian churches by becoming popular and pleasing others - or by some other political strategy.

This means, in actuality, that a person can achieve a position of authority and influence among ecclesiastical churches and not even believe in God. They could proclaim they have surrendered to Jesus, and get others to respect them by attending all the social functions. If they dress in a certain way, speak in a certain way and impress others that they are devout - maybe by doing some charity work or bringing stuff to the bake sale - they can convince everyone that they should get elected to the post.

This has nothing to do with serving the Supreme Being.

Jesus was teaching service to the Supreme Being. Not service to organizations. Not service to politics. Not service to impress others to get elected to a position of authority.

Jesus, in fact, railed against these types of political organizations, as he criticized the Jewish temples and their officials. They also had set up a politically driven selection process, where the priests would gain their authority through the selection/election of others.

Jesus, meanwhile, was not elected by a group or committee. He was not appointed by any organization. And he accepted no salary in exchange for teaching.

So how did Jesus gain his authority? He submitted himself at the feet of a spiritual teacher, John the Baptist. This is the act that has been characterized as "baptism." While many see this as a superficial ritual of getting dunked in water, it was meant to outwardly represent that a person had submitted themselves - committed themselves - to the teachings of a particular teacher - and to the Supreme Being, whom the teacher represents.

This is a personal relationship developed between the teacher and the student. The teacher teaches, and the student learns. When the student has learned, the student becomes a teacher. This is the ancient system that was carried on for thousands of years, as illustrated between Melchizedek and Abraham, Abraham and Lot, Moses and Joshua, Eli and Samuel, Samuel and David, John the Baptist and Jesus, and Jesus and his students.

Ecclesiastical sectarian teachers overlook the meaning of Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist. John was not simply a baptist. He was a teacher. Yes, John saw that Jesus was advanced spiritually. But Jesus still became his student. He still submitted himself to this devoted spiritual teacher.

Jesus also carried on this same process by himself teaching individual students, and baptized many of them to illustrate their commitment to his teachings. Then he asked them to individually carry on his teachings:
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)
Jesus illustrated by example the process of learning how to serve the Supreme Being. Should we become serious about learning to love and serve God, then God arranges us to come into contact with one who is serving God and thus representing Him. And it is God who gives that vision for the serious person to see who is serving Him.

Should the person be serious, they may submit themselves to this teacher, and become that teacher's student. Should the teacher accept that the student is serious, and begin teaching the student, the student can learn, and then, once their learning has progressed and they establish their own personal relationship with God, they may be empowered by God to also become a teacher.

This is the process of learning to serve God. It is a personal event. To serve a person, we must know that person. To know a person we don't know means being introduced to that person.

Because God is a person, God maintains a personal process to come to know Him. To know Him, we must be introduced to Him by someone who already knows Him. We must be introduced to God by someone who loves and serves God. Then and only then can we develop our own relationship with God.

This is a personal process because God is the Supreme Person. God is not a burning bush or a vague force. God is a person with a personality. This is the basis for serving God. There is no question of doing God's will if God is not a person. Having a will requires a person - a person with likes and dislikes.

And serving God means doing what God is pleased with. Not what others are pleased with.

How do we learn to serve God? First we must get to know Him. We must learn about Him personally. We must be introduced.

This is what Jesus was doing. He was introducing his students to God and introducing his disciples to the meaning of service. Service comes from love, and love comes from having a personal relationship. This is why Jesus taught:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-40)


(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Gospel of John without sectarian institutional influence, see the Devotional Translation  - translated from the original Greek texts.)