Foot Washing

JOHN 13: 1 – 17

Why not engage in foot-washing?

It was the custom in the time of Christ for a host to have a servant who would wash the feet of all guests. Before going to a special event persons would bathe. Street sanitation in that period wasn’t what it is today. Persons also wore sandals. In walking to a destination, person’s feet would become dirty. Upon arrival, the servant would wash their feet.

That is the reason for the expression in John 13:10, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet…”

Christ made two connected statements:

“What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this?” (John 13:7).

They knew very clearly He was washing their feet so that obviously wasn’t His reference.

“Do you know what I have don to you?” (John 13:12).

Of course they knew He had washed their feet. There was no question about what He had done physically. Therefore, that wasn’t the reference of the question.

Then Christ commented: “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).

If he had wanted them to simply wash the feet of others He would have said, “Do what I have done.” By saying, “do as I have done” He was appealing for a show of humility.

His actions in washing feet were not to get us to go through such a ritual, but to be humble and show humility.

In summary of the moment Christ said, “A new commandment I give you…” (John 13:34). There was nothing new about foot-washing. Humility among this rank-seeking cadre as among many Christians today is indeed new.

Augustine said, “Should I be asked what is the firs thing in Christianity, I would say the first, second, and third thing in Christianity is humility. That is where our Christ started in the upper room trying to summarize His teachings to the disciples in the hours preceding His executive. This is the message He communicates to us today.”