Jesus Foot Washing Example
Lets take a look at the passage where Jesus washes the disciple’s feet:
NLT John 13;1 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. 6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” 8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” 9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” 10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
Is this a literal or a figurative assignment? Perhaps this is a literal assignment, but there a plenty of clues that lead us to think otherwise. How then are we “to wash each others feet”? I don’t think it was a coincidence that the leader was washing the follower’s feet. This ties in too well with the concept of servant leadership, a concept that we obviously have great difficulty with. I think the foot washing represents the “day to day” cleaning that we need. When this passage mentions a person washed all over it refers to a person who has been baptized.
We “put on Christ” when we are baptized.
NLT Gal 3;27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on the character of Christ, like putting on new clothes.
NLT 1 Peter 3:21 And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Baptism is not an outward cleaning, but saves us through an inward cleaning. It is an appeal to God for a good conscience and asks God to take away the guilt of our past sin (that Christ paid for, wiping our “inner slate” clean). The assembly is responsible to cleaning dirt off each others feet, We individually thru confession to God keep the rest of our body clean.
Then back in our original reference, 1 John 13;16, it refers us to back to the servant leadership. The slave not being greater than their master, the messenger not greater than the one who sends the message both refer to the leaders of the church. They are reminded that they are not greater than Christ and his servant example. It is easy for a pastor in today’s churches to become a little conceited. I’m reminded of the saying that “Power corrupts; Absolute Power corrupts absolutely”. Today’s pastor’s have been given (and unfortunately accepted) near absolute power over their churches, but God’s word calls them to a very different role, the role of slave.
NLT Matt 20;25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.“
So washing the feet, removing the day to day dust and dirt that we acquire can be viewed as restoring our humility and reclaiming our servant role. I’m thinking the foot washing is similar to re-booting a computer, restoring the proper perspective, the humility, the call to servant hood. We need to continually ensure that we never Lord over those around us. Typically we do not have a problem with those above us, but in Christianity it is even more important not to Lord over those below us. We are all called to serve each other
Remember Jesus, our example, was very careful to tell us that he did not come to speak his message. He simply relayed the fathers message to us. We should do likewise, not allow our thoughts and opinions to tarnish the pure message of God’s Word. We are assigned to be God’s messengers, and God will bless us when we realized that we are the slaves assigned to deliver the pure message of God’s Word. Drinking The Living Water
Perhaps you may disagree with my interpretations. In that case, it is far better for you to simply literally obey this call to wash each others feet. Perhaps we should call all leaders to literally wash the feet of those under them. Over time, I think this would take us to the same realizations. I can see how this can work in the serving ministries, the ushers, the worship team… but I have to wonder how do you wash the feet of the general Pew Sitting Congregations?
May God Bless You as You Seek and Obey,