On the night before He died, Jesus washed the feet of the apostles. He said to them “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13:14-15).
Back in time
I walk a long way, with sandals on my feet; dusty, dirty and tired I arrive. My host welcomes me in, and instead of getting a servant to wash my feet, kneels before me, and washes them Himself. This makes me uneasy, uncomfortable.
Why would He do this? Why does Jesus wash my feet? He says He is my model and that I should do this for others… Ugh; I don’t want to wash someone’s dirty feet… But He is gazing at me. I feel it; lift my head, look into His eyes. Invariably, when I look at Him, He surprises me. I expect Him to scold me, upbraid me, but He does not. He looks at me with love, and with compassion.
I ponder now, what this means, beyond mere hospitality, beyond being willing to serve others? Dirty, stinky feet, perhaps misshapen or callused; maybe cut or bruised. What might these feet represent?
The dirt of offense, the stench of cruelty. The hurts that warp our souls, the calluses with which we protect ourselves from others. The wounds of pain inflicted upon us that cut to the core. The bruising in relationships, unforgiveness, and judgement.
Jesus, gentle, calls us closer. Ever closer.
Might we be willing to bow low, release that offense? May we offer instead, understanding, curiosity? What caused them to say the things they said? Is any of it true? What is untrue – can we dismiss? Can we untie this rope of hurt that binds us? Can we wash their feet?
Those cruel words, ah, how they lashed us. Our Saviour lashed too, and beaten. May we say, as He did, “they know not what they do?” Offer Him our hearts, allow Him to work the slow profound work of healing? Let it go; wash their feet?
Hurts and wounding
And, oh, the hurts warped us; can we give Him permission to make straight the paths of our souls? Allow Him to scale back the calluses grown over; not forgetting He also invites us to put healthy boundaries in place? Could we remember the grace He offers? Therefore, offering it to others, and in so doing; wash their feet?
The pain and wounding we have suffered at the hands of others, we are bruised, and broken. We suffer unforgiveness, hardness of heart, judge harshly. Might we open our hands, turn palms down; release, forgive, soften our hearts, cease judging? Turn now, palms up; receive grace and mercy in time of need. Receive forgiveness, healing and peace. Wash their feet?
Listen, He is calling
Can we hear Him call?
Listen now, as He speaks the words He uttered the night before He died. He said to them “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13:14-15).