On foot washing

In John 13, Jesus shows his love to his disciples by leaving his seat as an honoured guest, taking off his robe, kneeling and washing their feet. Peter is offended, he does not want Jesus washing his feet. Jesus insists

“Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”[1]

There’s a pointing forward here. Jesus must come as the servant king to Peter and to us. The next day, Jesus would be humbled, humiliated even. The King has left his seat of honour and has stooped low. On the Friday, he would be stripped of his robe, mocked, beaten, killed. On the cross, Jesus loved us and served us so that we could be clean from sin.

“And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.  I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message.”[2]

The other night at Home Group, one of our members observed that whilst this passage calls us to humility, service and love for each other, he could not ignore the purpose of Jesus’ humility. He is not simply loving practicality; his concern is that his disciples should be clean.

Our concern is not just to model humility but within the church, our concern should be for the cleanness (sanctification of one another). Serving one another means spurring and encouraging one another on. Serving means that I don’t simply turn up as a consumer at church expecting the pastor to attend to my spiritual needs. When we gather, I come ready to serve, to use my gifts for the building up of God’s people.

We love and serve our neighbours not merely by doing good deeds. We want them to be clean. ESOL classes, foodbanks, debt counselling are all great things, don’t neglect to do them. However, I truly love and serve when I tell them the Gospel.

[1] John 13:8.

[2] John 13:14-16.