Have you ever wondered what the significance is behind the act of washing another’s feet? In John 13, we see Jesus washing the feet of the apostles before the Last Supper. What does this act reveal about him? What do the disciples’ reactions tell us? And how are we meant to apply the lessons revealed to our own lives?

Food for Thought

In modern society, we have a difficult time understanding what the Biblical world was like. Most people wore sandals and walked everywhere they went. Meals were usually taken together, and they did not sit at chairs or tables back then, but rather sat together at a low table on the floor. Imagine that in your mind: People sitting cross-legged at the dinner table, with their filthy, dirty, and grime-ridden feet in close proximity to all of the food. Doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? It was necessary for feet to be washed before enjoying a meal for sanitation reasons, and for servants to clean the feet of the present individuals before dining. When Jesus cleaned the feet of the disciples, he was performing a task reserved for the lowliest of servants. This is a tangible image of Christ’s purpose on Earth at the time: He didn’t come as a conqueror, but as a servant, ready and willing to do even the lowest tasks for those he loved.

The Disciples

Jesus’ attitude in this passage is in direct contrast to that of the disciples. They had argued amongst themselves who was the greatest, and when no servant was present to wash their feet it never occurred to them to help one another. They were shocked when Jesus took on the task.

What we learn from this story is that service is the greatest act we can do for one another. Just as Christ lead by serving, we are called to love each other in the same way. If the King of Kings will place himself in the role of servant, how can we do any less?

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