Servanthood and Dirty Feet

Written by: Christianne Williams

John 13:4-5 “so He (Jesus) got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around His waist.

Think about the dirty feet. I have kids and in the warm weather they love bare feet or sandals. When they come in at night, their feet are so filthy, it’s bath night every night in July and August otherwise their bed sheets would be ruined. They don’t smell the best either after a day of sweating in the dirt. If we don’t change sandals or wash them frequently they begin to stink also. They step in the clean tub with clean water and clean bar of soap. It doesn’t take long for the color of the water to go dark and murky. The bar of soap ends up the same color as the feet and I usually tell them to get out not long after they get in or the point of the bath would disappear. And despise washing those little puppies, I couldn’t wait until each of them were old enough to do it for themselves so I wouldn’t have to anymore.

But Jesus? He willingly knelt down and washed the feet of grown men who were fully capable of doing it themselves, to show how we should humble ourselves, how we must willing serve each other. It’s not about us, about our security or status, about comfort or superficial happiness. It’s about other people, looking after the down and out, comforting the hurting and experiencing true joy that comes from serving sacrificially.

Servanthood. That the Master is willing to wash the feet the feet of his followers sets a high bar for us in our daily endeavors to be like Him. For the Saviour of the world to kneel before ordinary men, and then begin to wash the feet that were exposed to the elements, dirty from the dust and who knows what else they had walked in along the road, is an amazing picture.

He wanted His disciples to do what he did, they were His apprentices, they were living their lives with Him to gain all of the knowledge they could, in the short time they had. Just as He wanted them to learn from Him, He desires for us to as well. I can’t help but picture those dirty, tired feet and think that as He washed them, they became clean again. As He works in our hearts they become clean again, our spirits become charged with His spirit, this act of foot washing is a sign of servanthood but also of how the works of the Son have brought us salvation and restoration.

Jesus didn’t just come to save those high on the ladder of social standing, He extended grace to those who were considered the least in society. To be like Him means we do the same. Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Jesus understood that His mission was about others. It wasn’t about His comfort, it wasn’t about His happiness, it wasn’t about His will. It was about doing the will of His Father, by laying down His life for all of us. He served others, and He did it with all that He had.

Let us look for ways in the days ahead for ways that we can serve; ways that we can show Jesus’ humble spirit and willingness to get his hands dirty to love others through service.