Footwashing is a practice of hospitality that Jesus used to express the servanthood to His disciples when the situation arose. A deep spiritual experience occurs when there is obedience to this example of Christ as well as rich blessings.
Footwashing has a deeper meaning and is also seen as a symbol of spiritual cleansing. Spiritual cleansing comes through The Word and The Holy Spirit.
Humans are often absorbed with self-images and self-importance that special humility needs to come from the gracious heart of God through the Holy Spirit. One of the fruits of The Holy Spirit is humility.
Servants of Christ show a quality of humility when they willingly pray for wisdom and spiritual insight.
When Christians, who are led by The Holy Spirit, follow the example of footwashing they make possible the deep work of repentance within done by the Spirit of God, bringing about the gift of unconditional love. Barriers are broken down, reconciliations are made and the wayward person can be restored.
Servanthood is an integral aspect of a person's relationship with God. Christian servanthood is a gift.
The Biblical understanding of servanthood has its foundation in people serving God in worship. Service and worship are often interchangeable. Service to God must be exclusive. Scripture stresses the privileges and responsibilities of being a servant of God.
God cares and rewards His servants.
Disciples who put into practice what they know will find true happiness, they will be blessed of God. Following Jesus is an all-encompassing commitment.
Actions are the results of the deepest thoughts, both of God and His created people.
NIV Luke 22:26-30
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him." 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. 24 Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
NIV John 13:3-17
3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 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. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" 7 Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." 8 "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." 9 "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" 10 Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you."11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13 "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. “
In Eastern countries, shoes are removed when entering a house and the lowest servant is to wash the dust off the feet of the visitor, it is a minimal gesture of hospitality. Footwashing is a lowly task, normally performed by a servant.
Jesus and His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for an evening meal at the beginning of the Feast of The Unleavened Bread and The Passover.
The disciples began disputing among themselves about who would be the greatest. Thinking too highly of one’s self brings enmity against others from within.
The practical side of foot-washing was done half way through Jesus’ last meal, no one had carried out the hospitality task of footwashing. Because of the disciple's argument about who was the greatest, this menial task was far from their minds and due to the circumstances Jesus did it Himself.
By taking off His outer-clothing, Jesus was a representation of humility. He took the posture of a slave. Being a servant did not intimidate Jesus; He knew what He was commissioned to do and where He was going. Disciples must not only have the desire to serve Christ but accept His service for them also.
Jesus said this physical washing was necessary before being part of the close fellowship with Christ. Jesus looked beyond the incident that had happened to what footwashing symbolises, servanthood and spiritual cleansing.
This service Jesus performed broke all selfishness and ‘one-upmanship’ the disciples had towards each other. The law of love, to "love one another as I have loved you" is of paramount importance and without this deep and constant love the Gospel could not be preached.
His disciples feet were symbolically washed to show what was required for leadership. Christian leadership entails servanthood for they are to proclaim the Kingdom of God as did Christ.
The disciples did not understand at the time what was happening but were always ready to be taught from Jesus. Teachableness is a quality in those who desire to learn and mature as seen in disciples of Jesus Christ. Unwillingness to receive leads to spiritual darkness.
Jesus said this act was an example of servanthood, one of many He set for believers. He had come to serve and was the perfect Servant. It was expected for His followers to imitate His life and obey His teachings.
To be associated with Christ as Lord, means to let Christ do as He wishes. Those who are cleansed by Jesus must continue on in this cleansing. This is done in living and humble service each for the other.
Footwashing for the working out of repentance is spiritual and not ritualistic as it points to love, the need for confession of sins and being forgiven.
The principles of the Kingdom of God are opposite to the earthly powers of people and nations. Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves”, as shown all through Jesus' ministry. (Luke 22:27)
The Son of the Most High God, Creator of the Universe, Sustainer and Maintainer showed this unique act of love and servanthood so His disciples would be challenged to forget self -importance and follow in their Master’s footsteps.
By washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus showed the deep and constant love of The Father to His own, His adopted children, His family, inspite of the fact they had often betrayed their weakness of their love for His Son. All this demonstration showed how deep the love Jesus had for His disciples. The greater impact being the next day He would die for them and their sins.
The fact that His great exaltation at the Right Hand of God was soon to come, did not deter Jesus from showing such humble, condescending, total love and favour towards His disciples.
Jesus knew that if disciples followed His example, the Holy Spirit would work a deep regret and confession which allows feeling sorrow for sins or faults as to be inclined to change one's life for the better.
Although He often reproved them, never did He cease to love them with an everlasting love. Jer 31:3. Jesus showed His love to them by washing their feet as the woman showed her love to Jesus. Luke 7:38
Cleansing requires ‘being washed by The Word of God.’ Believers need to recognise that while living here on earth, with its worldly godless system, these influences and our own weaknesses impact humankind daily. Disciples of Christ have been made clean and in right standing, made straight, before God by the blood of Jesus Christ, also by the daily cleansing of sins that comes through confession, 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness".
The dust of the road that gathered on the feet can be seen as a symbol of worldly contamination, of its motives, attitudes and priorities. Jesus had used a practical action to direct an attitude of self-sacrificing service and forgiveness. The disciples who had quarrelled among themselves were changed and became known for their love for each other.
Christ was willing to give up freedom of self-interest and show His willingness to serve others. His humility was a model for others. Disciples of Christ are to serve each others in humility and love.
Jesus was the ideal of servanthood. He also taught parables on servanthood. Jesus Christ set and example in servanthood so that His disciples might become like Him.
Disciples are to have Christ’s self-sacrificing humility and
love for each other.
"Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5.
Footwashing enables disciples to become true servants. Foot washing removes that attitude which defiles a person inwardly towards others, it does a deep spiritual work of the heart. The act unites Christians hearts and rebukes selfishness. Footwashing can be considered as a continuing witness of Christianity.
A Christian who sees others as worthy of preferential treatment is one who has a sincere heart, who has undivided allegiance in the inner being. Humility is the source of Christianity.
Washing of the feet was not only a model for service but the ultimate that was needed for service, the forgiveness of sins and a bond of unity.
No external ceremony can cause inner cleansing and is used only as a symbol or figure for cleansing resulting from The New Covenant.
NIV Philippians 2: 3-5 3
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:"
This reversal of roles is a preview into the position that Jesus will perform for The Church. It signifies how deep and totally committed He is to His family and to show the joy with which they shall be received in the Age to come by the Him, who has gone before to prepare for them this place.
When the great Day of the Lord comes Jesus Christ said that He will welcome all His faithful disciples into heaven and He will dress Himself to serve and wait upon them at His table. This imagery of a wedding banquet expresses the close relationship between God and His redeemed people. The statement made by Jesus is profound in its dimension, being the Great High Priest, King of Kings, Lord of Lords and yet The Shepherd and Servant of His family.
Until that time comes His servants here on earth need to be watchful and ready for service in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said that His followers will be blessed, happy, to be
envied if they would do those things that He had illustrated. Jesus also
told them they would be honoured by God.
John 12:26. "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me".
|SCRIPTURES John 13:4-17 Romans 13:10, Luke 22:24, 1 Corinthians
QUESTIONS 1] Why did Jesus reverse roles? 2] What is the purpose of servanthood? 3] Did the disciples know that they were to serve one another? 4] Why is love so important?
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