WASH EACH OTHER’S FEET!
I think I have written something about this before, but it is not wrong to remind each other of the heart of a servant. I will start by referring to the story when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. I am reading from the Gospel of John this time, the 13th chapter. It was just before celebrating Easter and Jesus was together with His disciples eating. Jesus knew that His time was soon to come. He knew that He had come from God and would soon return to Him. While they were sitting together, He took a towel, girded Himself and filled a basin with water and started to wash the feet of His disciples. When He came to Simon Peter, He was met with protests. Peter didn’t think that Jesus should wash their feet. I guess he thought that it should be the other way around. At that moment Jesus said something rather strange. He said: If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Peter became eager then and wanted Jesus to wash both his hands and head. Jesus asked them if they understood what He had done. It doesn’t seem that He is waiting for an answer since He continues to say: “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 should do what I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
What Jesus did in this story is quite unique. We must remember that slaves were quite common at that time. Slaves were under their master. I do believe that a slave would be quite shocked if his master would start washing his feet. I think that he would wonder what he was up to. I doubt that he would believe that is was done out of pure love. I think that more than Peter was surprised by the action of Jesus. The disciples were not slaves, but Jesus was their Teacher and Master. This portrays Jesus as a humble servant. Jesus wanted everybody else to do the same as He did. He says in Matthew 7:12: Therefore whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Many countries are governed by a strong hierarchy. Even democratic countries and committees are governed by a hierarchy. They have a king or a president on the top, then a government and a parliament. In the military we have a general, colonels, majors and so on. In India there are many casts. On the top they have the Hindu priests and on the bottom the pariah. You are valued according to your cast. If you should marry to someone from another cast, you could get big problems and even persecuted. Even Christians might strongly dislike marriages between mixed casts. I have worked for an organization in India where the motto was: Jesus is no cast. I really liked that. The hierarchy has also entered many churches and church organizations. I have experienced churches where there is a great difference between the leaders and the general members. The leaders and their families had permanent seats and the different departments on the second and third row. The leaders couldn’t eat with the other members, but must have special tables. A woman was scolded when she ignorantly sat at the wrong table. I know a worker was scolded in another faith church for going to the toilet that was reserved for the speakers. I do understand that those who are participating need to be in the front and I also want respect for those God has chosen, but we are all children of God and
LEADERS ARE SERVANTS!
Paul said that he was the least of the apostles. He even said that he is not worthy being called an apostle since he had persecuted the Christians, but then he said the key word: “But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain.” Ephesians 2:8 says that we are saved by grace and not by deeds. Therefore we have nothing to boast about. It doesn’t make any difference if you are high or low. We are called to do different tasks and we are equipped for that, but it is all grace. God is God of order and He wants certain rules and regulations both in the family, in a country and in the church, but no one is more worthy than others. We are all dependent on God’s grace. I am sorry when I see that so many work in their own strength instead of in His. He is the One to be honored and He is the One to be worshipped.
I’ll go back to the original theme: Wash each other’s feet. I have actually participated in this concretely. One Indian leader washed my feet and the feet of everybody else on the platform during a Christian conference. It is not common for an Indian man to wash the feet of a woman or those in a lower rank. When that is said, I really do not believe that this story is about washing the feet. I think it is about serving each other. Some leaders are leaders in order to promote themselves, but I think leaders and pastors should help the members to reach their potentials. I am called o be a mother in the Body of Christ and I am called to equip other Christians to fulfill their calling. When they succeed, I am happy even when nobody knows that I have been behind the scene. In Matthew 6 Jesus is warning us not to talk about our charitable deeds. Our left hand shouldn’t know what the right one is doing. If your motive is to be seen, you will not get any reward from the Lord.
Jesus ministered to His disciples, but we must not forget that today we are His disciples. He wants to wash our feet. In other words: He wants to minister to you and me. In order to give, one has to receive. If I haven’t received Jesus myself, I cannot give Him to others. If I haven’t received love, I cannot give love to others. I am reminded of a song and it goes like this: “I’m standing before your Throne receiving Your mercy, here do I stand.” Next verse goes like this: “I’m standing before Your Throne giving You my love, here am I now.” I always want to sing this song in this order since I think I must receive before I give away. Some people give out of a sense of duty, but God says we should give with joy and love. 1.Cor.13 says that even if we allow our body to be burned, but have no love, it profits me nothing.
When we wash someone’s feet, we must bow down. That is the opposite of exalting oneself. Those washing the feet of others, must in other words humble themselves. We read about humbleness in 1.Peter 5:5+6. It says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble and will exalt you in due time. I myself have felt it rather humiliating to receive washing of the feet. Many of us will manage ourselves, but the truth is that none of us can do that. We are totally dependent on the Lord and in these days we are also dependent on the others in the Body of Christ.
WE MUST LEARN TO BOTH WASH THE FEET OF OTHERS AND TO RECEIVE A GOOD WASHING BOTH FROM THE LORD AND OTHERS!