“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” Verse 14 (NIV)
Have you ever been part of a foot washing ceremony? My first trip to Tanzania was the first time I experienced it. One of the church ladies was given the task and it was humbling and very touching, however the day that one of the church leaders in Tanzania took time to wash (a number of years later) my feet was very meaningful. That moment will be in my mind and heart for many years.
When we consider all of the surprising things that Jesus did in his teaching and healing ministry, this scene was likely one of the most shocking so far, to the people around him.
At that time, it was common for a servant to wash people’s feet as they entered a home. I am sure you can imagine; this was an important practice of hospitality. Most people wore sandals as they walked roads covered in dust, dirt, and whatever the animals walking the streets left behind. So, we can easily imagine how unpleasant it would be to wash someone’s feet – and that’s why it was typically done by the lowest ranking slave or servant in a household.
It is in this act of servanthood that Jesus gives us a beautiful picture of the gospel – the good news of the kingdom of God. Washing his disciples’ feet shows God’s love for sinners in a way that mere words cannot express. This act of service gave the disciples a preview of the cross when Jesus laid down his very life to wash our sins away.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. He also told his disciples to go and do the same for others. We are called to communicate the gospel through a servant lifestyle, giving of ourselves so that others may experience life.
How is God calling you to do this? How can you humbly serve others, in order to point them to Jesus, who gave himself on their behalf?
Lord, fill my heart with a willingness to serve others and to give generously so that people may see your love at work in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.