Summary: The extreme willingness to serve, seen in Christ’s washing of feet, sets the example for us.
He Washed Feet
March 19, 2005
Being servants is not a modern concept and is one that, frankly, we don’t appreciate all that much. We live in an age of ‘rights’ and when we try to fight for rights- when even students will go on strike to try to force a provincial government to do their bidding.
Against this backdrop, Christ’s action, prior to his death, and his setting an example for us, is unexpected and undesirable, even.
v.2-4-5- he washed feet. We know that this was a task normally done on entry to a dinner. One of the servants, and often the lowest or most junior servant normally did this. However, for some reason, this had not been done prior to this meal. I would imagine that there was someone involved in serving the meal, so can’t imagine that there were no servants, of the household, present. But, no one had attended to this detail- perhaps Jesus had given special instruction that it was not to be done by one of them; I can only speculate about that, of course.
Jesus poured water into a basin, removed his top garment, and did the job, acting as a servant- being willing to give up any loftiness of role in order to serve.
v.6-8- he came to Peter, and they conversed. Peter resisted his lord’s actions, not wanting his rabbi to stoop before him. He felt unworthy of such service from Jesus. However, Jesus had vision, in the whole process, and tried to help Peter toward that vision. He wanted Peter to understand that there was more going on here than met the eye. He spoke of not understanding, and Peter protested very strongly, then relented, very strongly, in order to show that he accepted Jesus- v.9. He wanted nothing to indicate that he didn’t have a part with Jesus- he was willing to accept and do whatever was necessary in order to be part of Jesus. He was willing to humble himself and to put aside his pre-conceptions about what was appropriate, in order to be clear, to himself, Jesus, and all watching, that he was part of Jesus.
v.10- what is this about? This speaks to our need for ‘touch ups’ on occasion. This speaks of our need to, as Dwight Moody, I believe it was, said to ‘keep short accounts with God’. We’re not to allow accumulation of dirt. We bathe when we accept Jesus and we show that acceptance in our baptisms- our coming out and joining with the greater Christian community. However, there’s an old nature that still holds sway in us, and we need to touch up, through repentance, on occasion. We all need to be diligent in our repenting- daily and several times through each day- so it’s only our feet that need cleaning. Feet, represent that which touches the common- we know feet are metaphorical for all that touches the unclean and the unholy and ungodly, and which needs to be cleaned through the cleansing activity of heartfelt repentance.