by Dcn. Greg Statezni
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. John 13:14
If we want to fully understand this passage we need to know a little of the background. The Lord may have waited for one of the disciples to choose to rinse feet because He had just instructed them about being great in the Kingdom, but it seems the message didn’t fall on any receptive soil. They were still arguing about who was or would be the greatest, with no one volunteering to rinse feet.
Usually the host or hostess of a supper would arrange for a hired servant to rinse everyone’s’ feet. At that time people wore sandals and walked on dusty, dirty roads, and their feet needed a rinsing before eating. They normally reclined rather than sitting on an upright chair before having a meal. This reclining position might have further enhance the hygiene of clean feet. We may only imagine why the Lord didn’t arrange for a hired servant. Did He know that none of the disciples would volunteer, because they continued to argue about who was greatest? This setting with Christ rinsing their feet serves as a great teaching tool for the disciples.
The Lord then laid aside His outer garment which was the symbol of fleshly pride. Humility can only occur when we lay aside our outer garment of pride and serve with humility in the rinsing of dirty feet. Here we have a prime example of Jesus serving with a true attitude of humility. The entire emphasis of rinsing of their feet was to call attention to humble service.
The need for refreshing and the cleansing of sin is likened to a foot washing. There is only a need for bathing the entire body, but there is the necessity of daily rinsing and cleansing of our feet and soul. We must have our spiritual feet cleansed every day and this takes humility to set aside our pride–and then confess and repent with the washing of our soul by the water and His cleansing blood. This is the same blood which He shed for each of us on the cross at Calvary to make us completely clean.
Are we willing to wash another’s feet or have our feet washed?
Dcn. Greg ministers with Trinity Anglican Church