By Allen White
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. John 13:14
In my sixth grade Sunday school class, our teacher, Dallas Satterfield, decided to demonstrate feet washing as part of the lesson. He didn’t ask for volunteers. He just asked me to come to the front of the room and sit in a chair. Dallas proceeded to explain foot washing while he brought over a pail of water and removed my shoe.
As he took the cloth and began to wash my feet, I began to wonder if this was a carefully crafted plot to improve my pre-teen hygiene. But, I thought better of that. The reality was that I would have much rather been the washer than the washee.
Having a grown man kneel in front of me was more than a little uncomfortable. Maybe if he wore a lab coat that would be okay, but here in church with my naked feet exposed. I thought, “I’m never going to live this down.” I have no recollection as to the condition of my socks or toe nails that day. I am assume that I was in good shape.
In Jesus’ day, foot washing was a welcomed and necessary thing. Sandaled feet and Palestinian dust didn’t create a comfortable situation. The wealthy had people to take care of these feet. As Jesus met with his disciples, there were no “people” to take care of this, and there were no volunteers. So, Jesus volunteered.
Just like He volunteered to take on the humble form of a servant (Philippians 2), He took the towel and the bowl. The one that should have been the most honored among them took the position as their servant.
Then, Jesus told them to wash each other’s feet. This might have involved actual feet washing, but the meaning was clear: “serve each other.”
Today, there are churches that still practice feet washing. It might not be a bad idea to review that actual practice and remind ourselves that we’re not such a big deal after all.
But, with shoes on or off, how can we humbly serve each other? When a fellow believer casually mentions a need, do we engage that or do we turn a deaf ear? Whose feet can you wash today?
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