As an occupational therapist serving the older adult population, I have washed my fair share of feet over the last 15 years. Feet have never been my favorite thing (except sweet, chubby baby feet). I don’t even like my own feet! All adult feet are kind of gross, if you ask me. The longer we have our feet, the more age they show. I will stop there and spare you the graphic details.
Washing feet is part of the routine when training my patients in self care. If they are unable to reach their own feet safely, I take care of that for them. While it could be considered menial, I like to think of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet while I wash, rinse, and dry the feet of the sick. “If you have done it for the least of these,” I whisper in my head.
I get paid to wash feet. I made the choice to take a job where interacting with feet is a part of my day.
Jesus, however, is the King of kings. He is the Son of God. He is the Messiah. Yet, as he prepares his disciples for his crucifixion, he kneels to wash their feet.
In John 13, verses 3 and 4 are connected by one tiny word.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; SO he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 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. John 13:3-5, NIV
That tiny word in verse 4 speaks loudly to me. Verse 3 states that Jesus came from God, had the authority from God, and would return to God. It is a Messiah moment. Verses 4 and following describe him as a servant who stoops to wash his disciples’ feet.
If I were narrating this event, I would write, “Jesus is Messiah BUT he served.” John says, instead, “Jesus is Messiah SO he served.”
This two letter word exposes me. It shows me that deep down, I am about glory. Pride. Honor.
Jesus has rights to all of that and more. Yet, he is about serving. Humility. Death. He came, not to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45).
He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant. Philippians 2:6-7
The conversation leading up to this moment is so very like the disciples. So very like me.
A dispute arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. Luke 22:24
He served his disciples at the table as they revealed their ugly pride. He served them and all of us days later on the cross.
He humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8
Jesus serves. He then asks His disciples (that’s us, too!) to do the same.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. John 13:14
Am I washing the feet of those at my table? Or do I sit, arguing over who among us is the greatest? My prayer is that “so” will replace “but” in my prideful heart. I am a disciple of Christ so I serve.
Title photo credit , text added