13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
Read John 13:1-17
When you really love someone, you can put up with a lot of things – including smelly feet. I remember the first time I watched some people wash each others feet in church. I was probably about six years old or so. I remember thinking how weird it was. Why would they do such a thing? Then, as I grew older (a young teen), and observed such services, I remember thinking, “Oh no. What if they want to wash my feet? My feet stink really bad!”
I used to play outdoors barefoot a lot when I was young. I know how dirty my feet used to get, especially if I went a few days without washing them (Hey, I was just a kid, lol). I can imagine how dirty the disciple’s feet were that night; they didn’t have the benefit of socks and shoes. Washing your own feet was a custom in the middle east of Jesus’ day, as a person entered a home. If the home was one of a wealthy family, they often had a slave to wash the feet of their guests. It really was a slave’s job. So, why would Jesus, the Lord of life, wash His disciple’s feet? Because He was teaching them to love someone is to serve them.
True Love isn’t Bound By Anything
True love isn’t bound by smelly feet or dirty hygiene. Jesus used the best example of a menial service no one would want to do, in order to show His disciples how much he loved them. And, if He being their Lord, could stoop to such a lowly service, they must do the same. In verse seven, Jesus told them they wouldn’t understand what He was doing until afterward. He meant after he had risen and sent the Holy Spirit to infill them; now, two thousand years later, we should understand.
Many of us will gather this week in Holy Week services, and some of us will be asked to wash the feet of another. If you’ve never done it, it is a very powerful feeling of servitude toward a brother or sister in Christ. Imagine what it would mean to wash the feet of someone you don’t even know, perhaps a person off the street?
Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit. We should understand how important this kind of loving service is. Foot washing isn’t supposed to be about only performing a ritual for each other after we’ve all made sure to clean our own smelly feet before we get to church. (We do, don’t we?). Foot washing is a metaphor to inspire us to love and serve others in Jesus’ name, to be willing to go out and touch the “smelly feet” of the world around us. When we stoop that low, He raises us from the ashes.
Grace & Peace for a Holy Week,
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”