As a kid, I always considered washing my hands before a meal as a major inconvenience. The only thing separating me from my pizza was this pointless ritual, and I just wanted to get through it as quickly as possible.
Then I grew up and learned what germs were. Suddenly the washing of hands became not only an obligation, but something I happily did. I don’t know what germs I’ve picked up over the last few hours, but I certainly don’t want them going in my mouth.
So just about the last thing I’d want to do mid-meal is touch someone else’s grimy, sweaty feet. I’m no germaphobe, but the thought of giving a foot massage while eating is not in the least bit appealing.
So imagine the disciples shock when, partially through the Last Supper, Jesus arose, wrapped a towel around His waist, filled a basin with water, and began to scrub the disciples’ feet.
I can almost feel the air being sucked out of the room as I read John’s account! The disciples’ cordial conversation is silenced as each man, wide-eyed and incredulous, tries to figure out what Jesus is doing.
Keep in mind, these were not the lotion-softened, Nike-protected feet of today. These men trekked many miles in sandals, so their feet were likely dirty and calloused. Let’s just say it wasn’t like they’d just come from a pedicure.
Even if their feet had been spotless, washing them was typically the job assigned to the lowest servant in the household. And Jesus, the Son of God who’d created these faulty individuals, lowered Himself to this level.
I think there are two reasons:
- He genuinely loved them. Imagine the bonds formed over three years of constant companionship. Jesus knew He was about to die, and His relationship would never be the same. This washing was a loving parting gift.
- He was showing them what it looked like to be humble: “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)
Most importantly, I want to highlight whose feet He washed:
- Peter, who would deny Him three times over the next few hours (Luke 22:54-62).
- Judas, who would hand Him over to the Roman soldiers to be tortured and killed (Matthew 26:47-50)
- 10 other men who would flee and abandon Him; only John returned to see the final outcome.
Jesus knew these men would betray Him and leave Him for dead, and He didn’t care. He removed Himself from His meal, got down on His knees, and washed their feet.
The humbleness is astounding. How could our God do such a thing?
Jesus did far more than scrub your feet when He took to the cross. He allowed Himself to be sacrificed for you, displaying the greatest example of humbleness the world has ever seen. I honestly don’t even know how to respond to this kind of love, but it begs to me a question:
If Jesus was giving of Himself to “wash my feet”, who am I to deny that same honor to other people?