Will You Wash Someone's Feet?

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet by Ford Madox Brown

Jesus had arranged for a room where he and his disciples could celebrate what would be their last Passover supper together. Custom dictated that upon arrival in a home the guests would have their feet washed. In a wealthy home this was done by a servant. But always there would be water and a basin where guests could attend to themselves.

This practice of foot washing was a refreshment to a person who had walked hot, dusty roads before arriving. But it was also a necessity as guests reclined at the table meaning someone's feet would be at another one's head!

The twelve disciples had arrived at "the upper room" but no one had volunteered for this lowly task. To the astonishment of them all Jesus got up, took off his outer garments, and fastened a servant's towel around his waist. He then began to wash each man's feet. When he got to Simon Peter this kindness was met with resistance. No doubt there was a mixture of embarrassment at his master doing such a lowly task and uncertainty as to whether his pride would let him stoop to do it himself.

After exclaiming to Jesus that he would NEVER let Jesus wash his feet, he had been put in his place by Jesus' clear word to him. "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." John 13:8 The rebuke left Simon Peter like a chastened little boy. The big man sits with his hands folded and pouting while Jesus tends to his dirty feet. The other disciples sit quietly and watch carefully. Perhaps they are thinking.....this is the Master! What is he doing? Why is he doing this?

If you look at Jesus he has a determined, purposeful look. He saw an opportunity for a lesson and he doesn't want any of us to miss it.

Everyday you and I head out into the world to our jobs or schools. We brush up against good and evil, sin and self, sickness and health. In short, by the end of the day we have the dirt of the world upon us even though we have not necessarily fallen into sin. Just as Jesus washes the world's dirt from our lives so we are to do so for those who we live with.

Washing someone's feet is a symbolic way of restoring another to be their best for the Lord and for others. By our love we can turn a dejected husband into a man with energy and insight. By our kind words a wife can feel beautiful again after a day with the kids. By our understanding smile we can breathe encouragement into a student that just failed a test.

Everyone finishes the day with "dirt on their feet" but you and I can volunteer to wash them. "If I then, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet." John 13:14   Will you wash someone's feet?

Back to Truth in Color Table of Contents