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Replay: He washed their stinkin’ feet

Posted by on Apr 23, 2011 in service | 2 comments

Replay: He washed their stinkin’ feet

About a year ago, I published a post called “He washed their stinkin’ feet.” Thinking about and writing this article really affected me. I think the act of washing the disciples feet became even clearer to me last summer when I went to Ethiopia. There, they wash your hands before a meal. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article.


He washed their stinkin’ feet

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus had a nice meal with his closest friends and followers. He tried to explain to them the significance about what was going to happen. He used the bread at the start of the meal to represent his body that was about to be broken on their behalf and on behalf of all who would follow him. He pointed to the cup at the end of the meal and used it to represent his blood that would soon spill as the sign of the new covenant.

The people sitting around him didn’t get it. I’m not sure we get it today. Their relationship with Jesus was not dependent upon whether or not they “got it”. Today, our relationship with God through Jesus is not dependent upon whether or not we understand everything perfectly either.

Then, after dinner, after explaining once again that he was the one who would take away the sins of the world, after the apostles had already recognized him as the Son of God, after he had calmed storms and healed leprosy and cast our demons and raised the dead, after he all this… he washed their stinkin’ feet.

He dressed himself as a servant, knelt in the position of a servant, and wiped feed (at most) sandaled feet that had trod through dust, dirt, mud, trash… skubala. (How’s that usage, Bro. Dave? 🙂 ) That’s right… he scraped the “unspeakable filth” off their feet and between their toes. He lathered them up and scrubbed them with the cloth that was wrapped around him. He rinsed them off and dried them.

He did this one by one. He washed the feet of the sons of thunder who wanted to sit in places of prominence. He washed the feet of Thomas who would soon doubt his resurrection (as did the others, by the way). He washed the feet of Nathanael who had once said that nothing good could come out of Nazareth. He washed the feet of Philip who had been with him for so long but still didn’t know him. He washed the feet of Peter who would soon deny him twice. In fact, every pair of feet that he scrubbed and scraped would soon run away from him.

He washed Judas’ feet. He washed Judas’ stinkin’ feet!

Then, he did something completely, utterly, amazingly ridiculous. He said:

Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:12-17 ESV)

Did you catch what he said? He said, “I am your Lord (and he is) and I served you (and he did). How much more then should you serve one another.” WHAT?

Serve one another by doing things like that? He washed their stinkin’ feet!

Have you looked around lately? There are some filthy feet out there… some dirty lives… some filthy hands… some foul breath… some crooked teeth… some broken hearts… some wounded spirits… some dark souls. He wants me to wash those?

Who does he think he is?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 4-23-2011

    Wow. Powerful words. God help me to be willing to follow Jesus this far.

  2. 4-23-2011


    Thank you for a sound word!

    I have passed your words on to some valued brethren with the comment:

    I’m reminded this Easter, that, no matter what our theological persuasion, no matter how well read we are or how much theologically correct knowledge we have, no matter how much we attend to church services, Bible studies and devotions, no matter how many times we preach the most correct sermons, if we have no practical servanthood amongst the grit and grot of everyday people in everyday life, there are huge question marks hanging over our claim to be genuine born anew Christians.

    Those who claim to be called to function as elders/pastors, who never wash feet by sitting in the dust with those who are there, getting dirt under their well manicured fingernails, feeling the sweat running down their brows, as they bend their backs alongside those who are strangers to the love of Christ.

    If they never sit where these people sit, and wear their shoes, people without hope, how can they claim to be servants of the living Christ?

    Playing religious games amongst those who are already disciples (followers of Christ), filling heads with theological knowledge, without demonstrating the loving servanthood of Jesus, is simply not what Jesus expects of those who love Him.