04_Jesus_Washes_Feet_1024Photo from www.LumoProject.com 

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:3-5 

In biblical times, the people wore sandals. The roads were dusty, and their feet would become dirty. It was customary that when a person entered the house, the lowest ranking servant would pour water into a basin and wash the person’s feet. No lowly servant present.

The disciples did not dip their feet into the basin and wash, nor did they wash each other’s feet. Earlier, they argued who would be the greatest in the new kingdom that Jesus was to usher in. Surely, they weren’t expected to stoop to the level of a servant!

They approached the low table and reclined, leaning on one elbow, extending their feet away from the table, and began to enjoy the meal with the other hand.

There was the basin by the door. There was the water. There were the dirty feet.

Perfect man in an imperfect world, Jesus rose from the table, removed His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist, and knelt at the first disciple’s feet.

I imagine gasps as Jesus loosened the sandals from one disciple’s feet. Perhaps a heavy silence fell upon the room as He poured the water into the basin.

I wonder what Jesus thought as He poured the water. Did He think of pouring His life into the disciples for three years and pouring out His blood on the cross, bathing His followers in His righteousness?

As He took Philip’s feet, perhaps Jesus remembered Philip saying to Him when the 5,000 were hungry “Not even 200 days’ wages will give the crowd a little bit to eat!” (John 6:7) Perhaps Jesus smiled.

He came to Peter. “You’ll never wash my feet!”

“If I don’t wash you, you have no share in me.”  John 13:8 

“Wash my head and hands, too!”

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” John 13:10

As Jesus took Peter’s feet, He might have remembered Peter saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Or He might have thought of Peter walking on the water in the storm for a short time, but sinking when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the storm. I wonder if Jesus thought of when Peter would deny Him three times.

”I have prayed for you, Peter.”

Jesus dried Thomas’ feet. I wonder if Jesus touched Thomas’ ankle with the very spot where the nail would pierce His hand and said to Himself, “Touch my wounds, Thomas.”

He gently placed John’s foot into the basin. I imagine Jesus thinking, “John, you’ll be there for me. You’ll be there for my mother at the foot of My cross. Thank you for caring for her when I have ascended.”

Jesus cupped the water into His hand and poured it out on Judas’ foot. Do you wonder if He felt Judas’ betrayal kiss and winced?

Each disciple set apart, chosen by Jesus, bathed by Jesus, washed by Jesus, served by Jesus.

Jesus stands. I wonder if He thinks, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3

He removes the towel, puts on His outer garment, and He sits down.

You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. John 13:13-15

Jesus has served His disciples. They have been bathed in His righteousness. Their walk has been washed. They are filled with His grace. They have learned how to receive.

Jesus is now sending them to serve others, to set them apart for God, to teach others how to receive service, and to serve.

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3 Lessons

Jesus served us by pouring out His life for us. He bathed us in His righteousness by paying the price for our sins. That price was death, death on the cross. That price meant that Jesus took your sins and my sins upon Himself; He became our sin and bore the wrath of God … all for you and me.

But we have to receive what Jesus did for us on the cross. We have to let Him bathe us in His righteousness. We have to allow Him to serve us.

I don’t know about you, but I like to be in control, and when someone is serving me, I feel a bit awkward or embarrassed. But sometimes, I need help.

Have you ever gotten your feet dirty? How about your Christian walk? How do you get the mud off your walk? Is it sometimes necessary to scrub it? Wash it several times?

You can be assured that our Lord and Savior loves you with an everlasting love. You have heard it said that we must act in response to this love, and this is true, but first, we must sit at His feet and allow Him to do the following.

  1. Set us apart. Jesus has set you apart from the world. He has chosen you to dwell with Him forever. The Holy Spirit has regenerated you and bathed you in the righteous blood of Jesus. Accept this free gift, based on everything that Jesus did and nothing that you can accomplish.
  2. Serve us. We walk in a dirty world and we must place our feet – place our walks into His hands. That means we must know that dirt is on our feet—sin makes our walk dirty, and we must allow Him to wash us with the water of the Word of God. We must allow the Holy Spirit to teach us, convict us, correct us, through the Scripture.
  3. Send us. Jesus sends us on a purified walk to serve others, to wash their feet, to become a servant of others. He has equipped us for every good work, and He is increasing our love for others as we obey His leading.

Set apart, served, and sent to serve. Once we understand with our hearts as well as our minds, the new commandment Jesus gives us is a little easier to work towards. After all, He equips us when we put our feet in His hands.

John 13-34

If we love our brothers and sisters as Jesus loved us, do you suppose that we will allow them to serve us and they will allow us to serve them? So how do you love one another?

  • You put the neighbor’s trash can up after it has been emptied
  • You offer to drive a neighbor to the doctor
  • You serve in a ministry
  • You call a sister or brother who you haven’t seen in awhile
  • You pray for each other
  • You cook a meal for someone
  • You write a note of encouragement
  • You sit with someone in distress
  • You do life with each other
  • You serve as Jesus served
  • You love as Jesus loved

After all, everything Jesus did was based upon love. Isn’t love what we all long for?

My prayer

Our Father, thank You for sending Jesus to love with an everlasting love, so much so that He came to serve rather than to be served. Jesus, thank You for bathing us in Your righteousness and for washing our feet. Holy Spirit, thank You for helping us to understand when we must place our feet and our walks in Jesus’ hands for cleansing. Jesus, what a privilege it is that You send us to serve others and that the Father has equipped us from before the foundation of the world to honor and glorify Him. Oh, what an everlasting love! In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

How are you showing your love to others?

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Related links

Spurgeon on John 13:1

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