Now that I, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet,
you also should wash one another’s feet.
John 13:14 NIV
When I was in high school, my parents hosted a church ministry intern (Carrie) for a year. While interning, she met an awesome Christian guy (John) who was also in ministry and they ended up falling in love and getting married. I remember sneaking peeks of their relationship every second I could. I wanted to see how this whole thing played out. I mentally cut and pasted parts of their love story into my wish list for a future schweetie of my own.
My favorite memory was the day that John proposed to Carrie. I remember my Mom doing a lot of whispering that day. My sister and I hovered at the top of the stairs, straining to hear what was going on. My Mom tried to shoo us away and told us to give them some privacy but that was not gonna happen. John had gone down to the basement with a basin of water about the size of a small sink and I asked my Mom what he was going to do with it. She replied with glossy eyes “He’s washing her feet as he’s proposing to her.” My brain just about exploded into little heart shaped confetti at the thought of how romantic that moment must be.
If you don’t recognize the reference John was making in that act, it comes from a moment in the Bible where Jesus modeled for us what true, generous, serving looks like. He – the one they knew as LORD and Savior – did the duties that only a servant were expected to do. He took their dusty, dirty, stinky, warty, toe-jammy feet, got down on his own hands and knees, and washed them with his perfect hands. All of them – EVEN the one he knew would betray him!
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:2-5 NIV)
And why did he do this?
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:12-17 NIV)
He – the greatest in all the universe – did what was considered by all to be a lowly servant’s task. Can you imagine being a pair of those feet?! I can’t even begin to imagine the thoughts and emotions that would wash over me as HIS hands held my AGHHHHH-DON’T-SMELL-THOSE feet.
He does that with my whole life. All the parts and pieces – even the ones that I wish never existed – he holds in his loving hands and washes with grace and compassion.
Do I wash my family’s feet? Do I take joy in the simplest, smelliest tasks that are set before me and do them with a loving, servant’s heart? Honestly – most days I stay too busy to seize those moments. Most days I take care of the urgent, pretty problems surrounding me instead of listening and looking for the feet he has placed in my path.
This week, I will be praying that God open my eyes to ways I can serve in humility, grace, and compassion. I will be praying God opens my heart to find ways to bathe people in kindness and generosity. I will be praying God moves us all to find the feet in our lives that need love and fills us with the courage and patience to wash without judgement or fear.
Dear Lord, Thank you so much for the many examples you have placed in my life to remind me of the grace, truth, and humility of your way. Please fill me and anyone reading this with the wisdom to see the needs of the feet around them and the courage to serve these feet with your heart and your Holy Spirit. Amen.