“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.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 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. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” John 13:10-17
In this passage Jesus sets an example for us of how to serve one another. He does so in this story when he washes the feet of his disciples. He is the master, the Lord, the rabbi — there is no reason why he should wash the feet of his followers. This was not common. No where did the rabbi humble himself in such a manner.
Yet as we know, Jesus often steps outside the box. He does the unexpected. He colors outside the lines and turns the world on its head. He who is the head becomes the feet. He who is the master becomes the servant of all. For Jesus, the way up is down, and he teaches us to do the same.
Even while Judas was at the table and was identified by him as unclean, Jesus continues with his act. He says, “Do as I have done or you.” Which leaves little room for excuses and exceptions. If we do as he has done, Jesus says — “God will bless you for doing them.”
So what are we to do? Are we to physically wash the feet of those beneath us? Not necessarily. But we are to do that which is comparable to foot-washing for today. Maybe it is taking out the trash, opening the door, sharing the Gospel, loving our neighbor. Jesus demonstrates the fruits of the Holy Spirit by showing kindness, humility and love to those who were undeserving of his compassion.
Christians are different. Acts of mercy, compassion, generosity and love are more prolific among Jesus followers than any other religion or belief. How will you love like Jesus today? How will you wash the feet of those God puts in your path?
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for showing kindness when I don’t deserve it. Help me be a blessing to others, to serve, to put myself last and to show compassion. And so in doing, I display your grace. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me and my family with your power. Guard us, guide us, direct our steps. Help us be your hands and feet to a world lost in sin and shame. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen