My grandchildren love to go barefooted! In fact, I caught two of them outside shoeless after Christmas. During the summer months, shoelessness is the norm, but winter! Oh, my!
This got me to thinking about our feet and all of the places they take us. During the summer, it’s not unusual for me to find my grandkids barefooted with dirty, grimy feet, needing a good foot washing.
In India, shoes are removed outside, before entering a home. Homes are considered temples, and temples must be kept clean. Footwear carries dirt from outside; hence, it is carried into the house.
Think a moment about where our feet, shoes, and sandals take us. Dirt, grime, and all matter of ickyness attach itself to our feet and shoes.
In John 13:3-5 we find Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Living during Jesus’ time, everyone wore sandals or went barefoot. Dirt and grime would inevitably cake on to one’s feet. If not removed, that dirt and grime would track into the house. Washing guests’ feet was a job for a household servant. Jesus, however, chooses to become the servant and wash their feet. The significance of this act was not just about having clean feet in the house; it was symbolic about what He was going to do for each of them on the cross. He would be choosing not only to forgive their sins but also remove their sins, just as He removed the dirt and grime from their feet. The very thought of Jesus washing my feet is beyond humbling to me.
Max Lucado puts it this way: “To place our feet in the basin of Jesus is to place the filthiest parts of our lives in His hands. In washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus is washing ours.”
Feet are not the loveliest part of our bodies, unless you’re a baby! Washing someone’s feet is an act of humility, hospitality, generosity, and kindness.
For the disciples to have Jesus wash their feet was tremendously significant. Jesus was their King! Kings do not wash their subjects’ feet! Jesus was taking a simple act of kindness to show them who He really was and, in doing so, He led by example.
Isaiah 42:1-9 describes our Savior King, Jesus, as a servant, the chosen One in whom the Father delights. God’s Spirit is on Him, and He will bring justice, gentleness, encouragement, and truth to the world. God does not toss us aside, nor does He ever consider us useless or our feet too dirty to wash. He takes hold of our hands and leads us to the washbasin. He kneels down, pours warm water over our feet, and gently rubs the dirt and grime off. He then takes the servant towel and dries off those weary, clean feet.
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is about servanthood. It is about first letting Jesus wash our dirty, icky feet, then doing likewise to others.
When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, “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)
Knowing and doing are two separate things. Jesus tells us in that last verse that He reserves His blessing not just for those who know His will, but also for those who do it. Genuine faith always leads to godly action.
Our willingness to serve in any way brings glory to God. He is our example, and in serving others, we serve God, the Father.
Question: Whom can you serve today?
We might not be able to wash someone’s feet literally, but we can encourage, make a call, send a text or card, bake a cake or cookies, run an errand or simply give a “thank you” or compliment!
Can I challenge you this next year to wash some dirty feet as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to dry them off with your servant’s towel?
God wants to work through each of us to set the captives free, those who sit in darkness and are blind to truth and are lost! Why? So that God’s glory might go forth.
Oh, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (Rom. 10:15)
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Kathy Niswender is the wife of our pastor.