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.

John 13:12 (NIV)

Sometimes I wonder if we understand the things that we do as Christians. Jesus, before His crucifixion, washed the feet of the disciples. It’s widely believed that Jesus did this to show His disciples humility. An emphasis on the fact that Jesus came to serve and not to be served. After washing the disciples’ feet Jesus asked them if they understood what He had done. He also tells them they “should wash one another’s feet” and that he has “set an example that [they] should do as” He did for them (John 13:14 NIV). Reminding them that “no servant is greater than his master nor a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:15 NIV) Finally, He tells them that “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17 NIV). I believe that Jesus was showing an example of humility to His disciples but is that all that He was telling them?

Simon Peter objects to Jesus washing his feet. I believe that Peter’s objection had to do with Jesus’ station. This was the Messiah wanting to wash Peter’s feet. In Peter’s eyes, this was below Jesus’ station. This is where the notion of humility comes into the picture. God is the King of His Kingdom and no one is greater than He. However, Jesus stooped to wash His disciples’ feet. Something that I believe we do understand today since we sometimes see Christian leaders washing people’s feet and foot washing is almost a sacrament in some places. In addition, the notion that we should never think that any work is beneath us is also present here.

This is where, however, I believe that we think we understand what Jesus did but we don’t, Jesus approached Peter to wash his feet. Peter refused so Jesus told him that if He didn’t wash Peter’s feet then “you have no part with me” (John 13:8 NIV). We can see that the washing of the feet was more than showing hospitality and humility after Peter tells Jesus that He needs more than his feet washed. “Not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:9 NIV) Peter’s not looking at the physical result here, of having his feet washed. Peter’s thinking of a spiritual condition is evidenced by Jesus’ response, “‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean'” (John 13:10 NIV). In the natural, if you’ve taken a bath then your body is clean. However, if you go walking around through the dirty dusty streets then it’s your feet that get dirty so you only need to wash them to be completely clean again. Now, let’s look at the spiritual meaning here.

Being saved, that’s accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, is a process that involves a single step. When we “‘declare with [our] mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in [our] heart that God raised him from the dead, [we are] saved” (Romans 10:9 NIV). When we do this we receive the gift of salvation and are subsequently cleansed of all sin. We are now “clean.” Some might inaccurately think that it’s the water baptism that one undergoes after being saved that cleanses us of sin. Water baptism is a public means of proclaiming that we are identifying with the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Furthermore, it tells others of the commitment we have made to follow Christ and is the first step in obeying Him.

As we carry on our lives, after being saved, we walk through all of the dirt and grime in the world and it sticks to us spiritually. It doesn’t matter how holy of a life that you try and lead. You cannot avoid the “dirt” of the world.

Have you ever been to a church retreat? When I lived in Santa Barbara I used to go to a men’s retreat near Los Angeles with other men from my church. We’d meet up on this mountain for a weekend of fellowship. After spending a weekend in fellowship and communing with God I’d feel spiritually and physically refreshed and ready to take on the world. This type of experience is called “a mountain top experience” but you don’t need to physically go anywhere to have it. You might have noticed that after going to church, hearing a great sermon, worship, or spending time in prayer that you feel better. While these activities might not equal going away for a weekend they are all ways in which our feet get washed by Jesus through other people who know Him.

When we spend time alone with God we allow Him to wash away the things that have stuck to us in our daily walk. It’s vital to our being that we do this regularly. However, when we spend time with other Christians seeking God, in fellowship, we allow God to work through us to cleanse our brothers and sisters of those things that have stuck to them. Sometimes I think we forget that we’re to be Jesus, not just to those who are lost, but to our brethren as well. When we do this, commune with one another, we are blessed and refreshed.

This is what I believe Jesus was also showing us when He washed the feet of His disciples. As Believers, we need to spend time “washing” each other’s feet of the dirt that’s gathered there as we walk through this life. There were times when Jesus made it a point to note that something He was doing or saying was for those who believe, the disciples, while other times it was for the world. We can see an example of this here, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours” (John 17:9 NIV).

Therefore, I can’t help but think that the washing of feet is something for Christians to do for other Christians. Sure, there’s the necessity of being humble but it’s caring for one another that is also important. The practical aspect of washing one another’s feet is helping each other out. That could be anything from making a meal for someone who is sick to walking their dog if they can’t to washing their dirty car, etc. The spiritual aspect is spending time with one another in fellowship listening, encouraging, and praying with one another.

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John 13:7 (NIV)

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.