Are you kidding me? You want ME to wash someone’s feet?
As I read John 13:14 this morning I was struck anew by the example of servant leadership displayed for us by this humble act. He was their Leader, their Teacher, their Messiah, their Hope and yet in this last time He had with them all together before the cross He washed their dirty feet. He also called on us to do the same.
When my friend Jane Money and I went to Biloxi, MS as nurses on disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina we didn’t go planning to wash feet. But the One who called us there had a different plan. One after another we were approached in our little make shift clinic by people with issues with their feet. One man, who had to be past 70, had been working outside in the relief kitchen with a badly burned foot. Somehow hot grease had been poured on it. Yet he was standing on his feet, with his shoes on for hours a day preparing and serving meals. When he came in Jane tenderly removed his shoe, cleansed and dressed the burn and instructed him to return daily for a dressing change. Another man on the chainsaw team came in late one day with severe blisters from his boots. He had worked in pain all day but never stopped to see about himself. Again, after much protest from the man, boots were removed and the wounds were cleaned and dressed. He was overwhelmed that she would do that for him, a stranger with dirty, smelly feet. On another day while riding in the field with the American Red Cross and going from house to house I came across a woman who had been trapped in a neighborhood that was flooded. Really flooded. The rest of her family had climbed through a trap door into the attic to escape the rising water. Due to her size she was unable to get to the attic but she managed to climb onto the kitchen counter where she stood with water up to her chin for hours fearing the worst. After the water subsided she climbed down with bare feet onto the broken glass and filth brought in by the flood waters. Her feet were shredded. As I sat on the floor at her feet cleaning and bandaging her wounds she kept asking me over and over why I was willing to do that for her, a stranger. The only answer I had was that Jesus loved her.
Sleeping on the nursery floor of our temporary home that week we talked about it for hours. We felt it a privilege to be called to follow Jesus example. It was then that it occurred to us that when Jesus washed the disciples feet He included Judas Iscariot. The one who in a few hours would betray Him. He knew and yet He still washed the feet of His betrayer. Suddenly it was clear to me that when I am called to minister to others their motives are not important, only mine.
Have I always recalled and followed that revelation? That would be a resounding NO. But today, I am called anew to look around me and see whose feet I need to wash. It may be a friend or a stranger or a friend that I have made a stranger. In any case I only need to follow the commandment and example found in John 13:14 “If I then your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” I read a quote recently in my Abide app that sums it up: “May the grace God has given me be the grace I share with others.”
Whose feet do you need to wash today?