A Lesson From Jesus: Washing Feet
by retired Nazarene pastor, Len Bailey
Note: This week’s devotional entries all pertain to the events of Passion Week, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.
Read John 13:1-17
“’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 13:14-17)
Jesus gathered all twelve of His disciples for the Passover meal. Since this was the last meal that Jesus and His disciples shared before His crucifixion, it became known as the “Last Supper.” It is here that Jesus got up, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. He then poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet. Then He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around his waist.
Jesus, the one called Teacher and Lord by His disciples, humbled himself by washing their feet as an act of loving service. He then told them that He had set an example for them that they were to follow, and if they did so, they would be blessed.
I don’t believe that Jesus called His disciples or us, as His present day disciples, to literally wash each others’ feet but to find many ways to humble ourselves in service to others. We are to follow His example of love and humility in service. I believe that Jesus’ washing of His disciples’ feet was a symbolic act of His love for them. Jesus was teaching His disciples right up to the end of His life on earth. Within hours, He would demonstrate the greatest act of love and sacrifice ever known to mankind.
Years ago, I was a part of a men’s Bible study group that met in the leader’s home. On Thursday of Holy Week, after our Bible study, we each washed another man’s feet, as well as having our own feet washed by another. That is the only time I have ever experienced that, but I will never forget it! It was an act of love and humility and a sacrifice of pride for me to wash the feet of someone else. It was also humbling to have someone else wash my feet, as they did it in love.
Jesus our Lord modeled this act of humility and sacrifice and calls us to do the same. In a matter of hours, He would be arrested, put on trial, and crucified. He would die on the Cross as the ultimate act of sacrifice for the whole world. Jesus told us in scripture, that we are to take up OUR cross, daily, and follow Him! Jesus calls us to wash feet and take up our cross. In doing so, we will be following His example of humbling himself in service as He told us to do.
Listen to the following song and allows the words to reinforce the message above.
Pray the following prayer, or use it as a guide for your own:
As we reflect upon the beautiful act of love that Jesus displayed by washing His disciples’ feet, would you help us to see with Your eyes? May we see things that we can do for others that are offered as acts of kindness and love. Jesus, because of His great love for us, offered His life for the salvation of the whole world. Help us to offer our lives to others in loving service as You give us opportunity. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
Reflect on these questions with someone else or on your own:
- What humble acts of service is Jesus calling you to offer to others?
- What kind of sacrifice will be demanded in that service?
- Are you willing to sacrifice something for the One who sacrificed everything for you? Jesus said if you do these things, you will be blessed. He also said it is more blessed to give than to receive!