Have you ever gotten down on your knees and washed someone’s feet?
No, I’m not talking about your three-year-old’s muddy little toes after an afternoon of puddle jumping . . . but feet of all ages and sizes.
A number of years ago, I attended church with my son and daughter-in-love at the church where she grew up and they continued to attend with her parents.
Once a year, they wash each other’s feet.
At the end of the service, the men go one direction and the women another. Basins are filled with warm water as shoes and socks are removed. And then, humbly young and old kneel before each other washing and drying . . . serving in love and following Jesus’ example.
Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.
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. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given Him power over everything and that He had come from God and was going back to God. So during the meal, Jesus stood up and took off His outer clothing. Taking a towel, He wrapped it around his waist. Then He poured water into a bowl and began to wash the followers’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. John 13:1–5
The task typically assigned to the lowest servant in the household performed by the King of kings.
Important Things You Need to Know about Foot Washing
If anyone had the right to be served it was Jesus, the Son of God . . . the Son of Man. Yet, His consistent message was…
Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. Matthew 11:29
Everything about Jesus’ life was about obedience to the Father, although He said, “The Father and I are one.” John 10:30
Even so, He chose obedience…
“No one takes it away from me; I give my own life freely. I have the right to give my life, and I have the right to take it back. This is what my Father commanded me to do.” John 10:18
Jesus surrender happened when He stepped out of heaven into the body of a helpless babe knowing it was for one pure purpose . . . to redeem the hearts and souls of people for all eternity. He relinquished His power, authority, and control for you and me.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:5–8
It’s hard to live a life of humble service. It’s exhausting. And we know Jesus felt all those same feelings you and I have when we are pressed in on and underappreciated.
Yet, love won. Jesus had a mission to accomplish and as He remained connected to the Father, He had everything He needed to do what needed to be done. With God’s help, you and I can allow love to win as we surrender to the His will and serve His people.
“In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many people.” Mark 10:45
God is love. Jesus is God. He is love. Everything He did
God is love. 1 John 4:8
From His abundance, we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is Himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. John 1:16–18
Oh, how I want to do better.
But I wonder . . . if we too often believe the lie that if we’re not doing some grand world-changing mission we’re falling short.
Maybe you and I are doing more foot washing than we realize.
One of the best parts of this account is the small intimacy of the moment. Jesus and His disciples. Not the masses . . . this moment was family.
And I’m not saying you shouldn’t look for ways to serve on a grand scale, but today when you…
- clean up spilled milk for the umpteenth time
- bathe little bodies
- do something around the house so your spouse doesn’t have to
- run an errand for your elderly neighbor
- call your parents
- set up chairs at church
- apologize to someone whose feelings you hurt
- cook dinner
- clean the bathroom
- forgive the person who hurt you
- do the laundry
- run your children to one more activity
- look a stranger in the eye and smile
- visit a friend in the hospital
- pray for your spouse, children, friends, family, etc.
You are foot washing!
You are showing humble, obedient, surrendered, servant love.
For me, one of the most powerful things about Jesus washing His disciples’ feet is not that He did it but that He included Judas.
Foot washing is easier to do for the people who love us. Not so easy for those who don’t. In fact, sometimes it feels downright impossible.
And it is impossible without God’s help. But with His help . . . you and I can do the impossible, even offer kindness and love to those who hurt and betray us.
So, for the next few days, take notice of the ways you are already washing feet and be on the lookout for small ways you can bless the people around you with humble obedient service and love.
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