3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God, 4 riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel, and girded himself. 5 Then he poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 So he cometh to Simon Peter. He saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew him that should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12 So when he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and sat down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me, Teacher, and, Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you.
Israel can be a dusty place, and sandaled feet get filthy walking to and fro. In ancient times, a person entering a home removed his sandals and cleaned his feet. Or if the homeowners were wealthy, servants would do the washing. This distasteful but necessary task fell to the worker of lowest position in the household.
Imagine the disciples’ surprise when the Son of God put Himself in the role of a lowly servant and knelt to wash their feet. The need for such a service was great, as they had been traveling for some time. But not one of them offered to do it.
Jesus did more than fill a need; He offered an object lesson. As He explained, “I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (John 13:15). Some churches have incorrectly interpreted this as a command to make foot washing an ordinance. But it’s possible to perform a ritual without contemplating the significance of Christ’s actions.
In fact, the washing isn’t the main point—it’s the attitude that counts, not the act. Jesus desires that we be willing to humble ourselves to serve others. He is looking for men and women who will ignore pride, position, and power in order to do whatever must be done, wherever it needs doing, and for whoever requires assistance.
Jesus performed His greatest and most humble acts of service within 24 hours of each other. He washed dirty feet by using hands that would then be pierced by nails. The message here is that every task God gives us is important to His kingdom.
In Touch Ministries