Monday, March 9, 2009

Lessons from the Washing of Feet

5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. (John 13:4-8)
I suppose we can pretty well understand Peter’s feelings about the Savior getting down on his knees and washing everybody’s feet. “This is Christ! He shouldn’t have to do this!” No wonder Peter first refused to let Christ wash his feet. “I can wash my own feet. I’ll save you the trouble.”

I have always thought it was peculiar that Christ told Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”

One answer to this puzzle comes a little later in the same chapter.
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (John 13:12-16)
Christ considered Himself the servant of all, and so He wanted to make sure that none of the apostles considered themselves too great to serve. If they thought they were too great to serve, they would miss out on the same blessings and satisfaction that Christ got out of serving and they would alienate themselves from Him.

Another answer comes from examining the effect of Peter’s attitude, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” Rejecting the Savior when He wants to do something for you is no light matter. Reject Christ when He is present, and how can you possibly accept His Spirit, which can be almost imperceptible in a noisy world? Reject offers of help from people, and how can you be in the humble frame of mind to accept invitations and impressions from the Spirit that offer help and bring you to have greater part with Christ?

Another answer lies in the unifying effect of service. Although the apostles could have washed their own feet, by allowing Christ to wash them, they learned how much Christ loved them (enough to do a rather dirty and low-status job). This love could make them one.

I have found that this is true. When I get to help people, I feel more one with them. And similarly, when people offer to help me, if I allow them to help, I feel one with them.

Let’s have the humility to give and accept help.

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In The Doghouse said...

The ordinance of "The Washing of Feet" is one of great significance. It symbolizes the ability to fully wash the dust of this earth off, and walk the higher ground. These special witnesses of Jesus Christ needed to be able to walk the "higher ground" to be effective in their job as Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Heather said...

hey Michaela,

how random that i came across your blog. i saw some other scripture blog and saw your name and thought i remembered the name. I was your visiting teaching companion in Chandler in 2004 or so. We moved soon after to Memphis, TN and then in 2008, we moved to Utah. I remembered that you were working on an Isaiah book. Glad to see it's progressing.

Anyhoo... just wanted to say hello. you can get in touch with me at

Take Care! Heather Smith (the blonde gal)

Costa Rica Baby! said...

I just found your site. Wonderful. I've been looking for more substantial lessons for FHE as my oldest just turned 12. Thank you.

You Isiah book is wonderful. Can't wait to dig in!

{I'm posting about your site on my little blog tomorrow.}