Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.”- John 13:3-7
We are all familiar with the footwashing example that Jesus gives us in chapter 13. In youth camps across the country it is practiced to leave a lasting impression on the youth. The Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal, and Anglican churches replicate this practice every Thursday before Easter. At the time of Christ the washing of feet was performed by the lowest ranking of the servants . There were even some who thought that one of Jewish decent should not wash the feet at all, but that it should be reserved for the gentile slaves. Either way this was a practice that was seen as one of he most demeaning things one could do. In this context it is easy to see why the disciples were so up in arms when Jesus started to do it. By washing the feet of the disciples Jesus was teaching the disciples about humility. It was an act of love, and a model of how we should act as Christians. The disciples probably did not know how to respond. No doubt there was embarrassment, and that led to silence . Peter was the only one that spoke up, and he objected to Jesus washing his feet in verse eight.
There are three applications of Christ washing the disciples feet that can help us today. Jesus is the Son of God and he reached people by serving them. There is an old saying that states that people will not care about how much you know until they know how much you care. In our own ministries are we backing up our words with action? Secondly it was an action of extreme humility. Jesus did the work that the lowliest among him would have done, but he did it to show us that we must be humble and ready to serve others as he did. Thirdly the footwashing also set an example of Christian conduct. No matter what role we have may it be a husband, parent, manager, or pastor having a Christlike attitude is a strong witness to a lost world.
1. Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1991), 462.
2. Ibid, 463