When Jesus washed His disciples' feet, He was doing more than wiping away some dirt. It was a deliberate act that spoke volumes to everyone in the room―and it still speaks to us today.
In Jesus' day, there were servants who washed the feet of guests because everybody wore sandals and the roads were very dusty and dirty. I imagine those servants were considered the lowliest of the low, even among all the servants in the house. But John 13:4 says that Jesus "got up from supper, took off His garments, and taking a [servant's] towel, He fastened it around His waist."
Shocking, isn't it? I mean, quite a few gasps must have gone through the room. But Jesus went right on doing what He was doing. Verse 5 says, "He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the [servant's] towel with which He was girded."
What's even more shocking is that Jesus washed all of their feet―including Judas'.
Whose Feet Are You Willing to Wash?
A lot of us are willing to wash some feet, but not others. Let me explain.
At a recent conference in Texas, I had three people join me on stage for a foot washing. One of them was a famous worship leader. It wasn't really hard to wash his feet. After all, he's a cool guy and most people would jump at the chance to spend time with him. And it's easy to do things for people we want to impress, but here's the thing: God wants us to treat everyone the same.
The second person in line was somebody I didn't know and might never see again. When it comes to reaching out to people like that, we're much more likely to think, Well, why should I get involved? Surely they have friends or family who can help them out. But we have to be very careful not to ignore the strangers God puts in our path.
Now, there's one more category of people I felt I had to address, and that's family. So I went ahead and washed my husband's feet too. I wanted to make the point that if we're willing to serve in a ministry in church, we need to be just as willing to serve our family behind closed doors.
So many marriages fail because people go into them thinking, My spouse is going to make my life better. But God wants us to go into every relationship thinking about what we can do to make their life better.
Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (see Luke 6:31). I believe we can turn things around in our little corner of the world if we will simply take the first steps.
What's Good for God Is Good for You
In John 13, when Jesus had finished washing the disciples' feet, He said to them, "Since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you" (see John 13:14-15 NLT).
In other words, He's saying, "Because I have been a servant, you should be too."
Our natural bent may be to look after our own needs first, but the Bible shares an important secret with us. In John 13:17, Jesus said, "If you know these things, blessed and happy and to be envied are you if you practice them [if you act accordingly and really do them]."
See, what we so often fail to realize is if we would simply do what we can to meet the needs of others, we will be blessed and happy. So today I'm challenging you to step out of your comfort zone and get creative. Think of a few ways you can help the different kinds of people God puts in your life.
I can tell you from experience, you'll be a much happier person when you're living to love and help others.