Jesus Washes the Feet
1It was before Passover, and Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and to return to the Father. He had always loved his followers in this world, and he loved them to the very end.
2Even before the evening meal started, the devil had made Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, decide to betray Jesus.
3Jesus knew he had come from God and would go back to God. He also knew that the Father had given him complete power. 4So during the meal Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5He put some water into a large bowl. Then he began washing his disciples' feet and drying them with the towel he was wearing.
6But when he came to Simon Peter, this disciple asked, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7Jesus answered, “You don't really know what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8“You will never wash my feet!” Peter replied.
“If I don't wash you,” Jesus told him, “you don't really belong to me.”
9Peter said, “Lord, don't wash just my feet. Wash my hands and my head.”
10Jesus answered, “People who have bathed and are clean all over need to wash just their feet. And you, my disciples, are clean, except for one of you.” 11Jesus knew who would betray him. That is why he said, “except for one of you.”
12 After Jesus had washed his disciples' feet and had put his outer garment back on, he sat down again. Then he said:
Do you understand what I have done? 13You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. 14And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. 15I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 16 I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. 17You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.
How you would feel? He kneels before you and draws the clay basin near. Strong hands loosen your sandals. He lifts your grimy, smelly foot to the side and brushes the grit from between your toes. Debris from the long walk today falls away. He lowers your foot into the cool water.
You inhale and exhale with pleasure and unexpected relief. The cool wet trickles between your busy toes and swirls under your tired arch. Sunny brown hands swoosh water over your ankle and rub away the filth. And Jesus washes. The Lord himself washes. The Son of God, the Light of the World, Jesus, washes your feet.
Peter is astonished.
“No!” he says. “Never!”
“If I don’t wash you,” Jesus tells him, “you don’t really belong to me.”
Peter replies, “Then my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answers, “People who have bathed and are clean all over need to wash just their feet. Now, wash one another’s feet… No servant is greater than his master… You will be blessed if you do these things.”
In washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus does a needful menial task. But he also symbolizes how your feet represent your faith walk in life. He commands three things, if you want to walk with Him:
- Wash the feet of others – the dying souls who need the refreshment and relief of Jesus’ cleansing, and the faltering Christian friends and family who have strayed from his commands.
- Ask God daily for the cleansing of your own errors, cleansing through Christ, who paid for your sins. Ask him to wash away the debris of the day’s journey, the grime of the low places you have stepped.
- Accept washing from others, though it embarrasses you that they see your sin and fault.
Father, forgive me for avoiding the dirty work, for turning away from the unwashed, the smelly, the unlovely. Forgive my pride, my arrogance. Grant me a humble heart to accept foot-washing from those who see in my life what is unwashed, smelly and unlovely. In Jesus’ name, Amen.