During His last days before His death, Jesus was very intentional in what He did, how He spent His time, and even what He said and taught. There are lessons just in that very fact, but let’s look at a different aspect of Jesus’ last days.
First of all, I want you to think about how you would spend your time if you knew that you were going to die soon. Who would you go see? What activities would you do? What projects would you complete? What wouldn’t seem important anymore?
Ok, now reflect on what you might do if you knew you were going to be betrayed by a “friend,” publicly humiliated, and then tortured to death. Those choices just got more difficult, didn’t they?
Let’s go one layer deeper. What if you knew who your betrayer would be? What would you do or say to that person?
Jesus was faced with all of these decisions, but He did not act selfishly or bitterly. He did not give in to the instincts for self-preservation or revenge. Yes, He was fully God, but He was also fully man. Indeed, He warred against all the human instincts and emotions that we do, and He conquered.
Why Did Jesus Wash the Disciples Feet?
Instead of finding Jesus “living it up” before His death, we see Him simply sharing an evening meal with His disciples. Then, He took off His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist, and began to wash His disciples feet.
Back in those days, feet were not fully clad in shoes like they are today. Instead, they wore sandals. Streets were not paved and clean like they are today. Rather, animal dung, dust, and debris would have been on the streets and therefore on the disciples’ feet.
Cleaning their feet would have been a messy business, one that was normally designated to the person of lowest standing- a slave. Yet, Jesus lowered Himself to do this unsavory job willingly and humbly (John 13:1-17).
Why in the world would Jesus voluntarily do such a distasteful act of service? If we read further, Jesus explains.
“Do you understand what I have done to you? 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 13:12-15).
Instead of focusing on Himself during His final days before His death, He focused on others. As followers of Jesus, we are to emulate Him. He left us His example to follow.
Should I Wash Feet Like Jesus?
So, are we supposed to literally wash one another’s feet? Some groups would say yes; and if it is needed, I would agree. However, in this day and time, it rarely is necessary. Nevertheless, we should always be looking for ways to “wash each other’s feet.”
What do I mean by that? We should be watching for opportunities to serve one another, and I mean truly serve. Jesus showed us sacrificial service.
Of course, we will happily sacrifice for our fellow brothers and sisters and our loved ones; but Jesus calls on us to do the same for our enemies. The Lord of Heaven and earth got down on His knees and washed the filth from Judas’ feet too.
And He called it out to make sure His disciples (that includes us!) understood the lesson.
Jesus knew everything about Judas and what he would do. Jesus knew the consequences of Judas’ greed and selfishness- the agony and humiliation that He would suffer because of Judas. And yet, He humbly washed Judas’ feet anyway.
Did Jesus’ act of service leave His disciples unchanged? Absolutely not.
Did it mean something to them? Most certainly.
Did it cost something from Jesus? Definitely.
And then He said, “Go and do the same.”
Look For Ways to Serve Each Other
I’m not suggesting that we must go about and only do acts that are monumental and life-changing, but I am suggesting that we should take the opportunities to serve others even if (perhaps especially if) it will cost us something. Perhaps it calls on us to lay down our pride, or give of our precious time, or open our wallets and help someone financially rather than purchase something we need or want.
Because if it doesn’t cost us something, did we really wash their feet?
Our acts of service should also leave the recipients changed for the better. It may not transform their life, but if it leaves them without any doubt that they are loved- by us and especially by their God- then we will have washed their feet. If it eases a burden, opens their eyes to a truth, or inspires them in their spiritual walk, we will have washed their feet.
Even my everyday tasks can become acts of foot washing if it is done with a meek and sacrificial attitude. In this way, I can wash my spouse’s or my children’s feet. Rather than grumbling internally about everything that I have to do for them, I can gratefully and gently choose to wash their feet.
Jesus Washed Feet. Would You?
Are we following in our Savior’s footsteps and washing each other’s feet? Do we adopt an attitude of humility and service toward others? Do we only look out for the best interest of our friends and family or do we look for ways to help and serve even those who mistreat us?
Foot washing is not a specific act; rather, it’s an attitude and a way of life.