Wash One Another’s Feet

Wash One Another’s Feet

Wash One Another’s Feet.

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14-15, KJV).

Foot-Washing: A simple act of hospitality; a house servant task, involving placing someone else’s dirty, smelly feet into a bowl of water and carefully cleansing those feet of all dirt, grime and sweat, then drying the feet with a clean towel; a common, menial act of service and humility; exercising the ministry of touch to the untouchable; the powerful sacrament of servanthood.

a. We are in the Upper Room on Thursday night at the Last Supper. The Passion is starting in earnest. Jesus is just beginning to wash the dirty feet of each one of his disciples, including Judas. This was certainly the work of the lowliest house servant, not the Master, Messiah and King. No one else offered to do this simple, dirty act of hospitality, so Jesus stepped right in. He took off his robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, filled a bowl with water, and proceeded to wash everyone’s feet. This was undoubtedly very startling and confusing to the disciples. They have just enjoyed three years of miracles and spell-binding teachings. Certainly this was beneath Him! The Lord acting as a slave? No way. But Jesus, being the Eternal Teacher, wanted to provide a demonstration, an example of what He wanted His disciples to do after He has left this world. He wanted to perform this act to demonstrate the spirit in which to do their ministry in His name. He wants His followers to develop a heart-felt humility, a willingness to serve each other, and to serve mankind. He is saying, If I can be this humble, so can you. If I can put humility into practice like this, so can you. Jesus fleshes out this powerful visual aid so that His disciples realize there should be nothing beneath them, nothing too menial or dirty or basic. Christians are often called to do things in serving people that others are unwilling to do. This foot-washing was a sacred moment, the Upper Room was indeed holy ground. Instead of a consuming fire or a burning angel, we have a bowl of water and a clean towel. It seems only right and fitting that everyone had to take off their sandals.

b. “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise¬† in your own estimate.” (Romans 12:16, NASB).

c. In the Orthodox Church, this foot-washing is a symbol of baptism, for Jesus says here, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me, and you can’t be a part of what I’m doing.” (v. 8). The cleansing water of the bowl symbolizes the cleansing power of Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection. Even Peter started getting the right idea when he said in v. 9, “not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Foot-washing has since become a sacramental act in the Church, a time when the physical mingles with the spiritual, when we are able to experience the power of servanthood. Our consistent offering of repentance and confession may be viewed as periodic foot-washing, being cleansed by Christ, the dirt of our sins being washed away as we confess our way through a sinful world.

d. “Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.” (Romans 12:16, Message).