Dirty, Stinking Feet

When I am dining out, be it at the local diner or for a dinner at a good restaurant, I really  appreciate good service. Wait staff who are attentive, keeping coffee cups filled, but not hovering, who get the meal right the first time, are rewarded with a generous tip. It does not take me long to recognize whether the server is just ‘doing his job,’ or if he is fully engaged, intent on making dinner pleasant for those he is serving.

How do you serve?  Yes, it is a question for ALL of us.

dirtyfeetOn the night of His betrayal, the most stressful night of Jesus’ earthly life, He was not pre-occupied with His own needs. John tells us that ‘He knew His hour had come.‘ Despite knowing that His own death was imminent, Jesus was not focused on Himself!   We would not find it strange if we read that He asked the disciples to “Gather ’round me, guys. Give me support for this terrible time.” Indeed, later at the Garden of Gethsemane He would ask to pray with Him but, at dinner, while they bickered about their standing, about who was most important, He got up, took a towel and basin, and served them. “He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love … poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him.” (John 13:5, NLT)

Foot washing was one of the most menial jobs in an ancient household. It was a nasty, but necessary job in a day when there were no sidewalks, lots of livestock, and little in the way of modern sanitation. Sandaled feet were dirty, stinking feet and needed to be cleansed of the filth that no one wanted dragged into the house. The host never did it. It was a job for slaves. Yet, in this amazing anecdote John tells,  Jesus washed the feet of the men who walked and talked with Him because He loved them! He wasn’t shaming them for their fighting about self-importance. He wasn’t looking for their admiration. He was just doing what needed to be done.

He made it a teachable moment.  “After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table. Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do.” (John 13:12-15, The Message)

There are many ways to take up the towel and the basin, disciple.

Are you living as a servant, caring for people with genuine concern that flows out of a heart of love?
We wash someone’s feet when we absorb their anger without retaliation.
We wash someone’s feet when we offer them affirmation when we are crumbling inside.
We wash feet when we forgive another’s selfishness, letting go of our rights.
We wash our spouse’s feet when we learn to who they are and enter their dreams.
We wash our children’s feet when we gently, firmly, show them how to live without exasperation.

Americans tend to think that others owe them service.  It’s part of our present culture of entitlement. Do thoughts similar to these run through your mind?

– “I’ve worked hard, who’s going to thank me?”
– “If somebody doesn’t show some appreciation ’round here, I’m going to start doing the minimum required of me.”
– “Doesn’t anybody realize how important I am?”
– “Back off, man, this is my territory.”

Take this word from the Word into your heart today. It will produce amazing transformation.
“Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, NKJV)

Jesus leads us into a different kind of life.
Greatness in Christ’s eyes does not come from ordering others to serve your agenda.
It comes from being the servant of many, empowering others to become the persons God desires.


Make Me A Servant

Make me a servant, humble and meek.

Lord let me lift up, those who are weak.

And may the prayer of my heart always be:

Make me a servant, make me a servant,

Make me a servant today!

Kelly Willard © 1982 CCCM Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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