How Many Clean Feet are Around You?
Written April 16, 2015
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:3-5 (ESV)
The washing of the disciples feet is one of the greatest acts of humility ever shown by Jesus while here in this world. As the disciples had come together with Christ to partake of the Passover they were all talking and carrying on as they often did. In the midst of this time all of their feet were dirty. In Jesus’ day people wore sandals and walked dirt roads so feet regularly got dirty. That is why wash basins were common in homes during that day as anyone who came into a home needed to have their feet washed.
The washing of feet was not a very prestigious task as it was reserved for the lowliest of servants or slaves. It was the job that was beneath most people. Yet Jesus humbled Himself and put on a towel and washed His disciples feet. In this act He was saying that there was nothing He would not do to show His love and devotion to His disciples. He was showing His willingness to go to any length to serve and be in fellowship with His friends. He was showing that He would do anything to show them love.
This was done as an example to us. In fact to this day many churches have foot washing services showing how we are to serve each other in love to one another. As we look at Christ bowing down and washing His disciples feet we see an act of unconditional love, of surrender, and humility. When we see this we must remember that this is the life that Christ called us to and we must compare our own life to that of Christ. We must look at Christ with a towel wrapped around His waist stooping low and washing His disciples feet and ask the question “Is that me and my life?” “Is that the attitude and actions of the life that God has given me?”
This world is filled with malice, grudges, bitterness, unforgiveness, hate, hurt, and all manner of ills. It is filled with reasons why people are hurt and treating their neighbors poorly. It is filled with everything that doesn’t look like the love of Jesus. The world is filled with cries of countless millions screaming out “Does anyone care, is anyone different, does anyone love like Jesus?”
The question we must ask ourselves is “What does my heart look like?” Am I a church member bursting with that type of love, with that type of humility? Or am I like countless others in this world refusing to pick up the towel and wash basin saying it below me, or they aren’t worthy for me to do that.
Jesus said we would most look like Him when we do.
We must ask ourselves are we foot washers or are we ones with bitter hearts and refuse to serve our neighbors with love.
I’ve found that usually when a person is confronted for the way they have behaved or are acting toward their brothers and sisters in Christ I’m usually given a flurry of reasons for why they are acting that way. I’m told of wrongs done to them or things said to them or things like that. And because of these reasons they have acted that way.
However when we look at the love of Christ and the humility of Christ in the upper room we cannot help but be silenced at the love that He showed as He washed the feet of the ones who failed Him so often and even would fail Him in the future.
May I propose that Jesus wants His disciples to serve and love one another even through their disagreements and the hurts that they inflict upon one another. That through service and through love we find the grounds of forgiveness in knowing that we are connected by the blood of Christ and by our common purpose to love each other and to share that love with all the world. Consider if you will Jesus and the disciples as Jesus washed their feet.
Jesus washed Thomas’ feet whom Jesus knew would say in just a few days time, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” This doubter that would deny the testimony of his friends and the very words Christ spoke had his feet washed by Jesus Himself.
He washed Simon and Andrew’s feet who, right before the feeding of the 5000, indicated how little faith they had that Jesus would be able to do anything about the situation. Philip said we don’t have enough money to feed these people and Andrew said that they only had a few loaves and fishes. To these that doubted Jesus power, Jesus knelt and washed their feet.
Disciple after disciple He went, though they would be the ones that would run away at the cross when He was dying. Though they were the ones who were scared to death when a storm came while Jesus was in boat. He knelt and did the work of slave in service to the ones He loved.
Then came Peter, the boisterous, zealous, and overactive disciple. The disciple who tried to stop Jesus and said He would never ever wash his feet. The disciple that probably gave Jesus the most trouble. This disciple who would be invited to sit and watch Jesus as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane and fall asleep. Peter was the disciple who in just a few hours time would curse and swear and deny that he never even knew Jesus. To this disciple Jesus calmly explained things, and then washed his feet.
Jesus was there saying brother I love you. I love you even though your past and future words have hurt me. I am looking beyond that because you are my friend and I love you with an everlasting love.
He washed His feet
Jesus even washed the feet of Judas, His betrayer.
Jesus, still having the towel wrapped around him, took the water and washed the feet of the one who would sell Him out for thirty pieces of silver. Who would betray Him with a kiss. Who would set in motion the horrific journey to the cross. To His betrayer Jesus knelt down and in love and humility washed his feet.
His humility was absolute. There was no tinge of malice or hate. His heart was pure.
Afterwards Jesus said that this act was what we were to do to one another. That we were to serve, be humble, to show love, to help, to lift up, and to follow this example. We were to not think of ourselves as being higher than another but to be willing to get down on our hands and knees and wipe the dirt off our brother or sister’s foot.
But how often do we actually do that?
How often instead, do we look at those that hurt us and treat them with disdain and resentment rather than with the love of Christ. Rather than being a servant to Christ’s love we become a slave to our anger and bitterness and to the ones we are called to love, we hurt. Jesus’ example was one that said serve one another, work at loving one another, think of others more highly than yourself. Oh how often the opposite is true in our lives!
Today let me ask, are their dirty feet around you? I don’t mean in the literal sense but are there those that you are called to serve that you are refusing? Is there a wash basin and towel that you are refusing to pick up? The call of Christ upon every Christian’s life compels us to look at each and every person not with our own eyes but with that of Christ. To love and serve as He does.
What a powerful image that would be in our world to see such humility and love being shown among believers. What a testimony we would be for all the world to hear of how Christ made such a difference in our lives!
Let us strive this Easter season to be foot washers following Christ’s example. Serving, loving, and caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and looking beyond the faults of our friends, covering them in the love of Christ.