[readolog_blockquote ]Then [Jesus] said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as’Teacher’ and’Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do.
John 13: 17[/readolog_blockquote]
Disciples didn’t go to day spas, and they didn’t wear New Balance. Most theologians agree on these points. And since we’re also fairly certain they didn’t drive Mini Coopers, it’s safe to say they walked . . . everywhere. The unfortunate conclusion of these historical certainties is that disciples had dirty, ugly, smelly feet.
But so did everyone. It was in the fine print when you signed up to be a Biblical character. And so upon entering one’s house, most people compensated as would you or I by washing their feet. And feet being what they are, you can imagine that this was a pretty personal thing. In fact, to wash another person’s feet was considered so demeaning that the laws forbid a Jewish slave from being forced to do it. You had to call in the “B” team, the Gentile slaves, for something like that.
So you can imagine what the disciples must have thought in John 13 when Jesus got on his hands and knees and began to wash their feet. Other than Gentile slaves, this kind of thing was only done by wives for husbands or children for parents, and maybe disciples for teachers. But it was never done by teachers for disciples. And yet there Jesus was, kneeling, washing, and teaching all at the same time.
Peter (typical Peter) protests Jesus’ action. But Jesus says, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
That statement goes a little deeper than the bowl of water on the floor. Jesus was getting ready to endure humiliation that would make washing feet seem like a walk in the park. But without it, humanity would be lost, and He loved us too much to let that happen. The tough part for Peter, and perhaps for us, is in realizing that to be a part of what Jesus did and is doing, we too must learn about true love and be willing to humble ourselves enough to serve one another.
“I’ve laid down a pattern for you,” He said. “What I’ve done, you do.”
So the next time someone shows us their dirty, ugly, smelly feet (or any other part of their anatomy for that matter), perhaps we should consider this story. As Christians, perhaps we should be the first on the scene to do the jobs that must be done but that no one else wants to do.