I have a confession… I think feet are gross. Boy feet are even grosser. I grew up with three brothers, trust me! So when I read of the foot-washing model Jesus gave in John 13:1-17, I immediately think about the fact that those were dirt-road-walking, sandal-wearing boy feet that Jesus washed. It makes it somehow an all the more sacrificial, humble act of our Lord, in my book.
But when I take a deeper look, Jesus’ actions bring to mind two words in my heart: lavish love.
1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
What if I take into account that the Father of lavish love sent Jesus to wash those feet? What about the fact that the man who kneeled to wash those feet was the same God who knit those feet together in the womb? Does it change how I view the act He modeled?
The picture now changes in my mind to one of a loving parent overseeing a baby’s bath time. This was not a mechanical, disconnected act of service. A heart of lavish love overflowed in Jesus and onto those feet. Those sandal-wearing disciples had more dirt on them than most babies, but the heart of lavish love wasn’t put off by the dirt.
Those little toes needed tender care. In that moment, they were dipped into water and delicately but thoroughly scrubbed with a gentle touch. All the while, Jesus knew every step that those feet had taken and would one day take. He loved them in a way that is non-shameful or guilt-inducing, but intimate and tender—right where they were and in the midst of their immediate need. He didn’t make a point of judging the kind of or amount of dirt and grim on their feet, nor did He compare one man’s feet to another. He just washed them. Underneath the dirt were those same little toes He’d knit together in the womb, now clean and holy and with the hardest and darkest parts of the journey still ahead. How His heart must have both overflowed and ached in that moment!
In John 13:14-15, Jesus says, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
There are feet EVERYWHERE in need of a holy washing by a loving Father. Whether on a short-term mission trip, in a full-time ministry capacity, or just on a trip to the grocery store, there are people all around that God has placed in our paths. But are we carrying our buckets and quick to kneel to the task?
Or are we so busy looking at the dirt or condition of the feet around us that we start choosing which feet we feel comfortable enough to wash? Do we orchestrate the circumstances where we can wash only a particular group of feet?
God calls us to be washers of the feet He’s lovingly created in this world. He’s calling us to love lavishly and overflow the Creator’s heart into the lives He puts in our paths. He’s not asking us to pick the amount of dirt and grime that we feel comfortable with and approach those feet. Instead, He’s asking that we show up where He leads us with a rag and a bucket of soapy water, trusting Him bring the feet He created right to us and us to them.
I want to be ready to hit my knees with my bucket in hand at all times to meet whomever God places in my path, and let the love of the Father do the work only He can do.