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  • Mike Dominick

You Shall Never Wash My Feet!



"No," said Peter, "You shall never wash my feet!" (John 13:8 NIV)


Peter says this at the Last Supper when Jesus kneels to perform the household slave's chore for His disciples. Common hospitality meant the servant would wash the dirt from the guest's feet. Peter understands the symbolism of what Jesus is doing, and he isn't having any part of it.


You shall never wash my feet!


What Peter means is a simple matter of position and profound respect. You are the Master and I am the servant. I should be washing your feet. I don't deserve to have my feet washed by you, Jesus.


Peter's reading of the dynamic of what is taking place echo's what John the Baptist said about his relationship to Jesus: "He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:27 NIV)


But Jesus has something else in mind. He is not washing feet to exalt the disciples above Himself. He is serving them to demonstrate the profound heart of servanthood that He means them to have for one another, and for others. When Jesus finishes washing their feet, He tells them this:


“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

(John 13:13-17 NIV)


Jesus affirms He is still their Lord and Teacher. And He tells them He has set an example for them. To emulate Jesus is to wash feet. It is to serve. It is to love and sacrifice so others will know how deeply Jesus loves them.


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


Many of the greatest blessings of my life have been the blessings of serving others. Oh, it surely is a blessing when others care for me. But there is an even greater blessing in giving my life away. There is great joy in knowing I follow Jesus's example and express His love when I sacrifice and serve so others my know Him.


Like Peter, we first need to have Jesus cleanse us. We need to be washed clean of the sin and selfishness that mark our fallen nature and our overt actions. We need to be washed in the blood of the lamb to be made clean. That You shall never wash my feet thing - that won't fly with Jesus. Is it humbling? Oh yes. It takes great humility to admit our need of a Savior. But we cannot save ourselves. We need to be washed.


And then we need to wash some feet.


I think a huge factor in missing this servanthood in everyday life is sheer busyness. Often we don't even notice other's hurt and need because we are so focused on getting everything done we have to do. If step one in being a servant is allowing Jesus to cleanse us, then step two is asking Him to open our eyes to the opportunities He places in our lives to serve others. Here's a great prayer for the servant-hearted follower of Jesus: "Lord, help me notice a need, and give me compassion to want to fill it."


And then - wash some feet. Take the role of the servant. Give. Love. Help. Sacrifice. In giving your life away, you are profoundly giving it to Jesus. Always remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40: "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."


I wonder where I can get a towel and a washbasin?

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