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December 29, 2016, 8:29 PM

Whose Feet You Washin?


In John 13, we find one of the oddest interactions between Jesus and His disciples. Of all the strange conversations, interactions, and reactions that we see in the gospels; this one may be the oddest. Jesus gets up from the dinner table, and washes the feet of his disciples. This is strange for a multitude of reasons. 

First, it is strange for cultural reasons. Washing feet was considered a humiliating task in Jesus’ day.  So humiliating that a Hebrew slave could not be required to wash guests feet. It may not have been customary for someone to wash guest's feet, but it was customary for arrangements to be made for guest to have clean feet.  But this job would have fallen to the low man, not the leader of the house. Jesus was the undisputed leader of the group.  They referred to him as Rabbi and Master.  It would have been shameful to see Jesus begin to wash their feet. 

Next, it is strange for practical reasons. It was not necessary for Jesus to wash their feet. He could have just as easily told them that they need to get up and wash their feet. When you come to the dinner table with dirty hands, Momma doesn't bring soap and water over and wash your hands for you. She demands that you show some respect and go wash your hands. It is strange because he goes out of his way to wash their feet. In a lasting and powerful demonstration, Jesus sets an unusual precedent. 

Lastly, it is strange because Jesus tells his disciples to follow his example. That begs the question of “What do we do with that example today?” Many churches and denominations will have a 'foot washing service, and they can be no doubt very powerful services. But, it doesn't have near the significance today that it did in Jesus’ day.  Here are some questions that I think can help us follow Jesus’ example today:

Where am I doing what nobody else wants to do? Where am I serving in ways that require me to humble myself? Who am I serving that society says should be serving me? When am I willing to do what is not necessary in order to serve others? 

Jesus’ actions and command requires us to humble ourselves and serve others. If we truly want to be his followers: then we must do so even when we don't want to, even when we don't think we should have to, and even when it is something that we don't want to do.  Following Jesus is hard.


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