From John 13:
1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love... 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”...
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Feet Washing at our house
I'm a little quirky. I don't like going to bed with dirty feet so I wash them (or at least wipe them down) before bed. The other night Lydia was in the bath and I asked her if I could just stick my feet in right before she got out. She thought that was hilarious. She then so sweetly asked me, "Mama, can I wash your feet?" With her sweet little 6-year-old hands she lathered up a wash cloth and gently rubbed my feet. Then she rinsed them. When she was done washing she said, "Mama, will you wash my feet?" And of course, I did. I thought of Jesus and how sweet this activity was; how there was so much more meaning to it than she could understand.
I told her that Jesus washed his disciples' feet before He died. After the bath we got out her bible and found the story in John 13. We also read the story in John 12 where Mary washed Jesus' feet. Lydia found the part about Mary using her hair particularly noteworthy. She also thought it was funny when Peter panicked and told Jesus to wash his hands and head too. The next day she said, "Remember when that guy told Jesus to wash his whole body?"
She enjoyed the feet washing so much that we did it the next night. Her little hands were so loving and gentle as she washed and rinsed my feet. She even giggled one time as she pretended to use her hair.
In the next couple of days I read about some of the other times that feet washing occurred in the New Testament (Matthew 26, Mark 14 and probably my favorite account of the prostitute washing Jesus' feet in Luke 7). After reading I pondered and prayed. I asked God to reveal to me the lesson I could learn from this experience and from His word. I thought about it for a few days. I finally felt Him tell me that I should take it for what it is. There are so many things to learn from these episodes... and I was looking for some hidden meaning.
Having my feet washed in such a sweet and gentle way would be exactly how Jesus would have done it. It's an example of service, humility and grace. Jesus tells us that we are blessed if we do these things (v. 17). He never instructs us to do something that He hasn't done or wouldn't do. That's the sign of a great leader - one who leads by example. I also love what we get from the accounts of Mary and the prostitute. They used expensive perfume to lavish on Jesus. They did not hold out on Him. I guiltily thought about how often I give Jesus my leftovers (of my time, money, resources) instead of giving Him my best.
I love that the prostitute used her tears. I can picture the scene - such emotion - love, joy, gratitude. Although she had a lot of baggage and much to be ashamed of, she went without reservation. She offered up what she could give. I know there have been times when I've just felt too guilty or too ashamed to even pray. Jesus loves us, flaws and all. It's at the times of our sin when we need to approach him with humility and thanks, pouring out our tears and all we have. If we wait until we're perfect we'll never approach Him.
It also dawned on me that Jesus would do this for ANYONE. For a day or so whenever I thought about someone or saw someone I tried to remind myself that Jesus would have done it for that person. It gave me a whole new perspective on things - forcing me to look at others the way Jesus would. He would wash the feet of a homeless person just as he would a millionaire. He would wash the feet of someone without any physical defects just as he would someone who was scarred and broken. He would wash the feet of someone who drives me nuts or makes me mad. His lens is so different from mine. How different the world would be if we could always see people through his eyes. For the times when I made the conscious effort to think about him washing a certain person's feet, I did have more compassion and feeling for them. It was strange and such a great exercise.
I hope Lydia continues to want to do this for me and allows me to do it for her. Just like Peter, she doesn't fully understand now what it all means, but I hope that she will keep reading her bible and one day soon she will know.