From 2007-2011 our family lived in Green Valley, AZ. I have 2 lists in my phone from the day we began our long trek from AZ and traveled back to Illinois. The first list is, “Things I will miss about AZ” (of course the weather is at the top of that list) and the second list is, “Things I will NOT miss about AZ”. My #3 on this list is the dirt! My children were involved in many sports when we lived out West. The two dirtiest sports were baseball and soccer. In AZ, of course we know that it is hot and dry as well as windy at times. This fact becomes reality when you where flip-flops 24/7, 365 days a year. Not to be gross, but my feet were disgusting! They would crack because of the dryness and be covered in dirt from being out on the fields every night. I would get home in the evenings and have to soak my feet to get them clean. I remember always worrying about getting into bed with dirty feet!
I imagine this is something like what the disciples encountered with their wearing of sandals in the hot Middle Eastern climate. Their feet would always be caked with dirt and need to be cleaned. The typical household would have had a servant available to wash the feet of guests arriving for dinner.
In John chapter 13, the disciples had gathered for the Passover meal. As they celebrated the Hebrew festival, Jesus would serve them the Lord’s Supper for the first time. At the end of the meal, Jesus did something that shocked the disciples. He went over and got the basin of water and a wash cloth. He then went and began to wash the dirty, smelly, gross feet of the disciples. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was taking the position of the lowliest servant. The Master demonstrated the greatest leadership as he made Himself low.
We like to be recognized. We love the idea of being the person who is known as a leader or remembered as a person of prestige. But in God’s Kingdom, true leaders will follow Jesus’ example. If a person desires to be great, he must make himself a servant. If a person wants to be recognized by God, he/she will need to be a foot-washer. If we want to be like Jesus, we will need to lay aside our agendas and aspirations, and put the needs of others first.
Another amazing lesson in this account is that when Jesus washes the disciples feet, Judas is in the group. Jesus already knew exactly what Judas was about to do. He knew Judas had made a deal to betray Him and hand over Jesus to be crucified. This man who spent three years with Jesus was about to turn his back on Him. But Jesus, fully knowing what Judas had done, chose to wash Judas’ feet. His act of service wan’t reserved for those who deserved it. He didn’t wash only those who would stick with Jesus. Jesus’ act of service was shown to the person who would send Him to the cross.
It can be easy to serve a person you love and who loves you. But to choose to serve, to give yourself away to a person who would betray you, wow! But this is the kind of service that Jesus, our Savior and Lord Demonstrated.
Jesus was not worried what anyone thought of him during this feet washing event. I imagine that others were whispering about him taking on a servants job and washing feet. But, Jesus did it anyway. What is it that I could do if I wasn’t so worried about how people would think less of me — or for that matter, not take notice of me — what would I do that would be a genuine blessing to someone else?
Thinking back over the past few days, how did you serve others during the Thanksgiving Holiday? Did you get up and help wash and dry the dishes, even though you did not feel like it?? Did you sit and talk with the relative that absolutely bores you?? Did you offer to serve the last piece of pie to the child who had already had a piece? Can you imagine stripping down to your t-shirt at the the end of the meal and washing everyones feet???
This act of washing feet is so much more than cleansing someones dirty feet with a wet cloth. Jesus calls us to do things considered “below us” for others. We must put away selfishness, get on our knees before one another and serve them. Along the way, we discover that following Jesus means doing things that do not bring glory to ourselves.
Whose feet do you need to wash???