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Washing Feet?by Duane Mabee on June 16, 2022
Years ago, a friend fired an employee who had been with him for some time. She had several performance issues, but he said, “The last straw was that I watched her walk by a piece of trash in our parking lot several times and never even consider picking it up. That told me she was not a good fit for our organization.” Given what they did, I had to agree.
Jesus told us we “ought to wash one another’s feet,” (John 13:14 ESV). I don’t believe He meant we should establish foot washing ceremonies in our churches, though it might not hurt. Foot washing, in Jesus’ day, was a very practical, but menial job. In our age of designer socks and shoes it wouldn’t be the same unless you’re washing the feet of the homeless.
John 13 says Jesus knew the time of His execution was near, so He showed the disciples the full extent of His love for them. He took off His holiday clothes, wrapped an old rag around His waist and washed every dirty, smelly foot at the party. Then He got dressed again and said… “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them,” (John 13:12-17 ESV).
Jesus didn’t perform a special or unusual act. It was normal to have servants wash the feet of guests. What stunned the disciples was that He did it. The most honored, powerful person in the room did a task most of the slaves would have considered beneath them. You have to wonder what type of task that would translate into today. From the other gospels, we know that just prior to this event the disciples had been discussing their favorite topic – where they each ranked at the top of the pecking order. Yet, the undisputed head of the pack, did what none of them would ever have considered doing.
If we refuse to humbly serve our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter how lofty our position in the pecking order, we refuse to obey Jesus. Even worse, we put ourselves above Jesus, and He will never bless that attitude. It introduces destructive discord among the children of God when we are to function as one unified, loving organism.
Jesus washed feet to teach, to serve, and, most importantly, to demonstrate His love. He didn’t do it to impress anyone or make them dependent. Are we willing to do the menial and disgusting tasks in order to obey Jesus and to serve and love our brothers and sisters in Christ?