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Washing Feet on the Fourth

Stephen Sanders
Stephen Sanders
2013 2 Jul

Let’s pretend like you and I are really good friends. It’s July 4th and a bunch of us guys are at your house eating dinner, or maybe you are at mine. Maybe we just polished off some delicious grilled beef and enjoyed a cold beverage. Perhaps, we’re getting ready to turn on the game and take a killer nap or it could be that we’re gonna strike up a game of tackle football or start chasing each other around the yard with some of those Roman Candles or something really, really macho like that.

When out of the blue, I ask everyone to circle up in the living room. I break out a bowl of water and some soap and ask you if I could wash your feet. Seriously, what would be your reflex reaction to that?

Would you begin backing up…trying to be as nice as possible trying to make things just a little less awkward than I’ve just made them? Maybe you’d just be like, “Dude, no thanks I’m good.” Perhaps you’d freak out and begin throwing stuff at me? Start mocking me? Heck, I know what I’d do if you tried to do that to me and, to be honest, I hope no one ever tries to do that to me. After all, I’m pretty weird about my feet even though, I gotta say, they’re not bad looking feet. But anyway…

In our culture, that would be really, really strange, right? I mean, dudes don’t wash each other’s feet. Some of us (certainly not me) pay people to give us a pedicure, but that’s acceptable since it’s a service that we are paying someone for.

I was recently reading a story of Jesus where He freaked the disciples by randomly offering to wash their feet. Not just friends, mind you…people who were following Him everywhere He went because they thought He was God.

John 13:1-17
Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime…

Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron.

The first thing we should take note of here is that the washing of feet was, to people in this culture, an act of hospitality. When one of your friends would come to your house, you’d wash their feet because, well, they were really dirty and funky. You wanted to be hospitable and make sure they felt welcome in their home.

When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”

Jesus answered, ”You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”

Jesus said, ”If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”

“Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”

Jesus said, ”If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean…” After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.

See, this isn’t about dirty feet anyway. It’s about, “holiness, not hygiene…”

Then he said, ”Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.”

So, what is this “pattern” that Jesus was laying down for us? 1 word. Humility.

Humility doesn’t come easy for me. Does it you? But it’s (and make no mistake about this) a MANDATORY part of our Christian walk. It separates the men from the boys because, while it’s easy for us to say, “I’m a Christian, but…” it’s not so easy to stop, consider the situation you are in, and choose to serve others.

The 4th of July is a great day to practice this. If you are already having guests over, do a little extra than what you were planning to do.  I mean, I don’t really want to leave that last t-bone for someone else even though I’m the host and even though they insisted I keep it. Do it anyway! Wrap that bad boy up and send it home with someone else! Don’t take “no” for an answer…because you know they really want that last t-bone.

If you just happen to be at someone else’s place, take out the trash. Amuse their kids for 30 minutes so the hosting couple can relax for a bit. I know you don’t like their kids that much, but that’s OK. Maybe you would if you actually spent some time with them and realized that you’re the one with all the problems, not them.

All I’m trying to say is this: On the 4th, just step outside of your normal routine just a little bit more than usual. Because, it is in these random acts of humility that Jesus Himself promised that we’d, “live a blessed life.”

Happy 4th everyone.