Walking in Truth Devotional Update
Jesus Washed the Disciples Feet
The shadow of the cross looms over this meeting of the Lord with His disciples. Jesus has taken the time to prepare them for His death even though they had not understood fully what He was trying to do.
Alexander Maclaren eloquently put forth his estimation of this passage saying:
“Nowhere else do the blended lights of our Lord’s superhuman dignity and human tenderness shine with such lambent brightness. Nowhere else is his speech at once so simple and so deep. Nowhere else have we the heart of God so unveiled to us. On no other page, even of the Bible, have so many eyes, glistening with tears, looked and had the tears dried. The immortal words which Christ spoke in that upper chamber are his highest self-revelation in speech.”
Jesus rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” The servant’s heart is a heart of love. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). This should not surprise us because His whole life was dominated by service! As Christ said of himself, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
The Old Testament references (Gen. 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; Judges 19:21; 1 Sam. 25:41; 2 Sam. 11:8; Song of Solomon 5:3; Psa. 58:10) show that the washing of the feet was the first act on entering the tent or house after a journey. The host furnished the water, and the guests washed their own feet, but in the richer houses, the washing was done by a slave. It was looked upon as the lowliest of all services (1 Sam. 25:41). Walking in sandals on the filthy roads of Israel in the first century made it imperative that feet be washed before a communal meal, especially since people reclined at a low table and feet were very much in evidence. We do not have that need today.
After He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Jesus is calling us not to wash feet, only because that was a custom in biblical times, but to demonstrate kindness and love to any and all we meet. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with the totality of our being and the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40).
Jesus teaches us that we should disregard the common attitudes prevalent in our world that service to others is not our responsibility. As Christians we should be willing to do whatever it takes to show kindness to those in need. Jesus did not think Himself too good to wash the feet of His disciples.
What Jesus did in washing the feet of His disciples was emblematic of serving others with humility. Sometimes discomfort is necessary in service and arrogance (thinking we are too good for serving others) is the antithesis of humility.
If we should ever think we are too good to serve others remember when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, it was God washing their feet. If God would so humble himself are we too good to serve others?
By Guy Roberson