Feet are nasty! Of all parts of any person’s body, feet have to be the most disgusting. Have you ever been sitting in a car or a room when a person took off their shoes and the whole place smelled? Nothing smells worse than the ominous odor of sweaty feet. Feet are ugly. They get bunions, ingrown toe nails, nail fungus, blisters… To be honest, I don’t want to touch anyone’s feet, and I don’t want anyone touching mine.
In Jesus day, people wore sandals, and they walked everywhere. Feet would get sweaty, and incredibly dusty. Can you imagine how these sweaty, dirty feet would have smelled? After a journey, people would enter a house and take off their sandals. But to go into the house, they would need to have their feet washed. For this purpose, households would have the lowliest of the servants in the home come fill a basin with water and wash the guest’s feet. This was a task that most people would never take on themselves. It was too lowly and humiliating. If you were a foot-washer, you had to be the bottom man on the totem pole.
This is why this story is so incredible. The disciples had gathered for the Passover meal. As they celebrated the Hebrew festival, Jesus would serve them the Lord’s Supper for the first time. At the end of the meal, Jesus did something that shocked the disciples. He went over and got the basin of water and a wash cloth. He then went and began to wash the dirty, smelly, disgusting feet of the disciples. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was taking the position of the lowliest servant. The Master demonstrated the greatest leadership as he made Himself low.
We like to be recognized. We love the idea of being the person who is known as a leader or remembered as a person of prestige. But in God’s Kingdom, true leaders will follow Jesus example. If a person desires to be great, he must make himself a servant. If a person wants to be recognized by God, she will need to be a foot-washer. If we want to be like Jesus, we will need to lay aside our agendas and aspirations, and put the needs of others first.
One other thing I want you to notice. When Jesus wash’s the disciples feet, Judas is in the group. Jesus knew exactly what Judas was about to do. He knew Judas had made a deal to betray Him and hand Jesus to be crucified. This man who spent three years with Jesus was about to turn his back on Jesus for a few bucks. But Jesus, fully knowing what Judas had done, choose to wash Judas’ feet. His act of service wasn’t reserved for those who deserved it (actually none of the disciples deserved it). He didn’t wash only those who would stick with Jesus. Jesus act of service was shown to the person who would send Him to the cross.
It can be easy to serve a person you love and who loves you. But to choose to serve, to give yourself away to a person who would betray you, wow! But this is the kind of service that Jesus, our Savior and Lord demonstrated. Whose feet do you need to wash?