Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What about foot washing?

I have a question to ask?  Is foot washing for today?  Or is it merely a custom found in the Bible, or a strange ceremony practiced by certain religious sects, but not relevant to today’s society?  And IF by chance, it IS relevant and for today, then what would it look like?

How does one wash another’s feet?

 Our text for this ‘ceremony’ or custom is found in John 13:1-15. (Jesus got up from the Passover table and washed his disciple’s feet.)

Jesus physically washed their feet, but how would we do this in today's vernacular?  And should we?

Let’s look at two other examples of foot washing found in Luke 7:37-38 and also John 12:3.

John 12:1-3  So six days before the Passover Feast, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had died and whom He had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those at the table with Him. Mary took a pound of ointment of pure liquid nard [a rare perfume] that was very expensive, and she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Luke 7:37-38  And behold, a woman of the town who was an especially wicked sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment (perfume). And standing behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with [her] tears; and she wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet [affectionately] and anointed them with the ointment (perfume).

Do we wet the feet of Jesus with our tears of gratitude, appreciation, for Who He is, let alone for what He has done for us, or do we only cry over our own trials and sorrows?  Do we ever wet his feet, weeping as He did over Jerusalem, or for the lost souls of this world?

Do we wash others feet in prayer for them, or in service to the poor and those who cannot repay us in any earthly manner?  Do we strive to make better the world around us, not for our own recognition and applause, but because it is the right thing to do, and is within our power to do so? 
Are we willing to forbear with those who despitefully use us, serving in love and meekness, not in railing and protestation of their poor treatment of us, because we deserve better?  Instead do we become a voice for those who have no voice and  truly become their advocate?
Psalm 82:3 (BBE)  Give ear to the cause of the poor and the children without fathers; let those who are troubled and in need have their rights.

To participate in a physical foot washing is both humbling and exhilarating. It can be life changing, empowering and revelatory.  It can be an act of repentance and reconciliation between people. It is often a healing experience, bringing healing and restoration to the inner man when there have been untold hurts and wounds.
Whether it is an actual physical foot washing, or a spiritual one through outward acts of kindness, ect. it must be done with the right heart attitude.

Hebrews 4:12(AMP)  For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

Weymouth New Testament puts it this way:
…and it can discern the secret thoughts and purposes of the heart.

Sometimes, we need to be confronted with things in our lives, and in our hearts that we have not yet recognized as being there.  This is why the Word of God is profitable for doctrine, correction and reproof and training in righteousness! 2Timothy 3:16.   The Word holds up a mirror before us and begs us to look deeper than the surface of “appearances.”

When we wash another’s feet, we must be careful to check our heart attitude. Why are we doing it?  Is it for self-gratification?  To “feel” good about one’s self?  Is it so you can “show” the others how “holy” and “humble” you are?  I do not ask these questions with criticism in my heart, but as one to whom the Lord has also asked these questions of!  We must be careful that in our very acts of piety (worship to the Lord through outward service to others) that we do not put forth any airs or attitudes that would further degrade those to whom we are sent, rather than lifting them up, as Jesus always did.  Jesus never dwelt on what people currently “were,” (except for the religious leaders who thought they had it all together, and were sorely self-deluded. Which serves as a warning to all who would be leaders!)  But rather He pointed them towards what they could be, what HE saw them as being!

For example, let’s look at the account of the woman taken in adultery. 
He asked where were her accusers, after he had dealt with the hearts of those doing the accusing.  He then said, neither do I condemn you, ‘go’ (a command for a lifestyle) and sin no more.  In other words He was telling her, “you have a new lifestyle to live now and you CAN live it.”

By the way, He gave the same command to the 500 who watched Him ascend into heaven, which transfers/translates down the ages to you and me: “Go ye” ( into all the world and preach the G0spel…)[Go live out a different lifestyle, preaching the Good News in words and deeds that the Kingdom of God has come near.  In other words; that I, Jesus came and opened the way for them to have access to all that Father God intended for them to have from the very beginning! Which, is a life full of God’s goodness and intimate relationship with Him.]
So, the question is, “are we modeling this lifestyle that Jesus COMMANDED us to live?”  And don’t cop out and say, “but I am not perfect, so I ‘can’t’ do that!”  Jesus told us to do it, so it IS possible and we should be ‘going’ and ‘doing’ it every day! It is a journey, one that we will be on all the days of our lives.  So we have lots of time to ‘practice’ living this wonderful lifestyle He has made possible for us; a lifestyle of intimacy with Him and loving service to others, washing  people’ s feet all along the way. So, get ‘going!’
Yes, foot washing is for today!


Tom Minor said...

Excellent metaphorical teaching. I understand that some of
the men's groups engage in the ritual. Whether literally or
symbolically, it certainly is for today and all time.

Carole said...


Raymonda said...

Amen! Outstanding, Nancy!

“Serving & servanthood is NOT a stepping stone to greatness...it IS greatness! Mt.23:11 Greatest among you is servant of all” Pastor Gregory Dickow

Olu O. said...

Thanks for this careful, objective & non-critical analysis. I believe foot washing is for today, NOT as a part of Church instituted tradition or ordinance. I don't think it should be a ceremony in church either. But rather exists today as a figurative or prophetic depiction of what God's people/Christ's disciples should be doing to one another! It is a display of an attitude of humility & submission; a demonstration of the character of Christ who humbled himself & took the form of a servant (in Hebrew culture, it was the least person/servant in the house that went to wash visitors' feet before they came into the house. No wonder Peter refused to have it so from Jesus!)
On the other hand what Mary did, anointing & washing Jesus' feet was an act of worship, sacrifice & humble repentance. Here the less worships the Superior. It's a different scenario from what Jesus did to His disciples after supper.

I too won't judge anyone, but only interested in bringing out the Bible message on this topic. Shalom!

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Heart n Hands Inc. said...

Tell me son, to whom or what were you referring as "not judging anyone?"

I gave two spectrum points. One as Jesus humbling and showing us what we should do. The other as an act of worship and service TO Him. Which we should also do- and gave some instances in which it might be considered that we too were wetting his feet with our tears, if we wept over Jerusalem as he did, or wept over the lostness of man, as he no doubt still does. Would not these instances of our intercession, tears and prayers, be washing His feet?

I await your further comments.

Olu O. said...

What I meant is the actual "feet-washing service" of some modern charismatic churches today. Personally, I'm not too comfortable with this. I have my reservation because I see a lot of heresies in this. They claim to contact 'miracles' & 'breakthrough' through feet washing. In fact, some others have gone to the level of 'head washing!' I see something wrong with all these heretic practices which bear no semblance to the biblical examples.
Meanwhile, I don't doubt the fact that the Holy Spirit can lead a minister to do something unusual or peculiar at certain times, under the anointing; but not as a matter of continual practice.

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Heart n Hands Inc. said...

Anytime anything becomes a "ritual" it has lost the objective that it was first done for, and as Jesus so eloquently said, the "traditions of man" have made the Word to be of no effect.

Lola said...



Bless you,


Susan said...

Immanuel Church in Wilmington does foot washing on various occasions. Eg Consecrating and installing leaders, elders. And sending missionaries out on short term trips. Lovely.


Olive Tree Ministries

Immanuel Church

2414 Pennsylvania Ave

Wilmington, Delaware 19806



messages 302-652-3121 Ext 308

Heart n Hands Inc. said...

Thanks Susan, for your comment. I think that is a lovely way to consecrate someone!

Bless YOU Lola. I appreciate the feedback. Thank you.

To everyone,Thank you. Your comments are very welcome. This posting was an outgrowth of my musings on a devotion I read by George H. Morrison and my own experiences I've had involving times the Lord has directed me to do a foot washing. Blessings to you all.