Summary: Over and over, Jesus taught his followers about the value of humility. Now the Lord placed them in a situation in which they must act it out.
THE TWO SIDES OF FOOT WASHING
If you’ve ever spent time around farm animals, you may see a number of
similarities between them and us people. Chickens, for example, have an
interesting tendency to set up a social order in which the strong pick on the
weak. Or maybe I should say "peck". The most dominant chicken will peck on the
head of weaker chickens. The next most dominant bird then pecks on everyone
else’s head except for the chicken more dominant than him, and so it goes all
the way down to the lowliest chicken. Everyone pecks on his head and he pecks on
no one. He is quite easy to spot. He’ll be the bleeding, bald-headed bird always
looking over his shoulder. This is called the "pecking order".
The term has often been used to describe the way humans set up a social order
whether in small groups or large communities, but especially in small, close
social situations. We can even see it happening in the social dynamics that took
place between the disciples of Jesus.
More than once we see them jockeying for position and bickering over their prominence in the Kingdom.
This quest for position and power appears to come to a full head by the time Jesus had the
pass-over meal with them in the upper room.
One by one, they filed into the room prepared for this special meal with Jesus. I’m sure when they entered, they
would look around for someone to wash their feet before eating, but since no one
was arranged to serve in this manner, they sat down with dirty feet. The job of
washing the feet of dinner guests was the task of the lowest slave; the one at
the bottom of the pecking order. With thoughts of glory and grandeur in their
heads, none were about to wash any old feet! Jesus now gets up from the table to
the astonished, blank gazes of the disciples, removes his outer clothing and
wraps a towel around His waist and provides us with one of the most beautiful
and significant living parables in the Bible. This event provides us with very
practical and spiritual applications:
Over and over, Jesus taught his followers about the value of humility. Now the
Lord placed them in a situation in which they must act it out. To be effective
as Christ-followers, pride would need to be broken! A cursory look at the book
of Proverbs reveals a great deal about the problem of pride.
6Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men:
The proud individual believes that he is control of
his own future
1Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
No wonder it is at the top of God’s hate list!
By nature, we like our privacy.
The problem with valuing our personal space is that real ministry
occurs up close and personal. Laying on of hands, anointing with oil, caring for
the sick cannot happen at a distance and I suspect that Jesus wanted to get that
across to these future healers of hearts.
Whenever I ask someone the question, "What would you find most difficult:
washing someone’s feet or having someone wash yours?" The answer was always the
same. Having someone wash my feet bothers me a bit. I confess. I have a very
independent streak in me. I do for myself thank you very much and these feet
don’t need your help. I can wash them on my own, no problem. Besides, I don’t
want another person to see the dirt between my toes and under my toenails.
The problem with this thinking, however
is that it is far from the spirit of the Christian faith. An independent nature
is not a highly valued trait for a Christian. In fact, we are placed in a family
where we are mutually dependent for ministry and encouragement and edification.
Remember that the disciples had been bickering over primacy in the Kingdom.
Although they had a common bond in Jesus, they did not necessarily like each
other. The air was thick with jealousy and suspicion. Their heads were too full of glory and prestige and
position to do such a thing. AS GRAB A TOWEL AND WASH EACH OTHERS FEET.
. Every one would expect him to wash feet all the time from now on. They were all too busy worrying about taking
a throne to be concerned about grabbing a towel!
So Jesus did it
.It is very hard to stay mad or jealous of someone washing
Outspoken and spontaneous Peter did what he did best: open his mouth and talk.