John 13:14 “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should also do just as I have done to you.”
Jesus has always been our example, and this week as I leaned over the basin and washed feet, I couldn’t help but think about the time that Jesus knelt down to wash his disciples feet. He rose from the table, removed his outer garments and tied a towel around his waist. He then went to each disciple and began to wash their feet. What an example of humility from our Savior.
Philippians 2: 3-5 “In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant.”
Of course, Peter objected and said that his Lord would never wash his feet, for he couldn’t even comprehend Jesus, son of God, God wrapped in flesh, doing something that symbolized something so low and unworthy. The washing of the feet was a job left for the lowest of the low.
But Jesus knew something else. You see Jesus knew that to become a servant, to love those around you, to serve the least of these, that is how they will know that you love God. By your actions. By your deeds. By your washing of the feet.
And in this moment he chose to make himself low, and wash his disciples feet. I can’t even begin to imagine the way the room felt when Jesus bent down to do this. They must have all looked at each other just wandering why he would do this. If anything, they should all be fighting over who would wash his feet. Who would be the luckiest one in there to wash the feet of their Lord and Teacher. And yet it was him that was washing their feet. Unimaginable for the disciples.
Then he says, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should also do just as I have done to you.”
He is our example. He is who we pattern our lives after.
I’ve always heard how dirty the disciples feet must have been when he washed them just because of their shoes and roads that they traveled on. Lots of dust and dirt, that had probably built up all around their feet. This week as I have washed feet, I got it. The clean water turned dirty the second a toe touched it. These children’s feet were filthy, and yet I had the great honor of bending over and washing their feet for them. To have them present me with something so dirty, and be a part of them leaving with clean feet was humbling and honoring.
As they sat down in my chair, I would check their sheet for their name, and then greet them with their name. I wanted to show them that I cared about exactly who they were. Then as I scrubbed their ten little toes with soap I prayed for them. I asked Jesus to be near to them, and that they would know him and follow him.
I prayed over their feet. That they would be feet that would bear good news about the gospel.
I prayed for their education. That they would have the ability to continue in school and have the means to attend college. That their education would change their community.
I prayed for their families. That they would become educated today about the proper way to remove jiggers, that they aren’t a curse, and that they need to take them out of their children to keep them healthy.
I don’t know what Jesus said to his disciples when he washed their feet, but I would like to think that he too was going before his Father on their behalf.
He knew that he was days away from being crucified for something he didn’t do. He knew that he was days away from making all the prophecies in the Old Testament come true. He knew that he was Jesus, son of God, son of man, redeemer, light of the world – savior.
He also knew that these men in front of him were going to change the world.
I pray those feet that I washed this week will also change the world.
All photos by Gary S Chapman