We all know the story of how, on the night Jesus was betrayed, He stripped down to a cloth, and washed His disciples’ feet. We all know this story, and around the time of Jesus’ death, we share this story and we are told to be like Jesus, washing each other’s feet, helping each other out, and we are told to be a servant.
It struck me while watching Michael W. Smith’s “The Second Chance” exactly why what Jesus did was radical, and it’s fleshed out in two different stories in the life of Jesus.
The first of these stories is when Jesus enters the house of the Pharisee, Simon by name, for a meal (Luke 7:36-50).
As the story goes, Jesus is reclining at the table with the other guests of Simon, all of whom, we are led to believe, are high ranking Pharisees and Sadduccees. While they are eating, a woman, supposedly a prostitute (the text uses the word “sinner” which, at that time, applied to anyone of ill-repute) comes in and begins to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair.
The people at this lunch are clearly upset, but Jesus tells Simon, “‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.'” (Luke 7:44).
During this time, since most people walked the streets either barefoot or in sandals, it was customary to wash one’s feet when entering someone’s home. Not only that, but it is usually the role of the servant.
And that’s what makes what Jesus did on the night He was betrayed all the more radical.
As we know, Jesus stripped down to a cloth and washed the feet of the disciples and this , as we discussed, was the role of a servant, and here was the King of Kings on His knees, washing the feet of common men.
This is an extremely radical act. He stooped to the position of servant. And He tells us to do the same.
“Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:13-14; KJV)
So, here is my challenge to you: imitate Christ. Serve others.
I don’t care how much money you make, what your title is in the company or government you work for, or your reputation. Take the time to serve each other, from the top to the bottom, the least to the greatest.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says.