Several years ago I served at a church that carried out a “foot washing” ceremony. Not sure if ceremony is the right word to use here; but basically, during part of this special service, held 2x a year, we participated in foot washing. We patterned the foot washing from the John 13 passage where Jesus washes the feet of the Disciples before the last supper. It was a very meaningful service and that taught me a lot about humility and serving each other. Today, let’s look at the passage a little closer…
John 13:4-11 (NLT)
So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. 6When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” 8“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” 9Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” 10Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
A HUMBLE ATTITUDE
As stated already, Jesus is demonstrating humility and a servant attitude with His disciples through this act of foot washing. But what’s more, He is also teaching about the redemptive work that He will be doing for His disciples and has done for us through the cross. Jesus has redeemed us and has washed us clean. In verse 10 Jesus refers to the “bath” or “bathed”; until my trip to Israel the meaning of this term was concealed to me. Now, this verse has a new and significant meaning to me. In EVERY Jewish community you can find a community “bath” (in Hebrew, Micvah) facility (usually near the temple or local synagogue). This bath was not like we know of a bath in our western culture; no, instead it was a room that had a constant flow of fresh water and the participant would enter into the room fully clothed in a modest outfit. The “bath” was a picture of becoming clean from sin; it was a ritual, done on a regular basis before worship.
So, when Jesus tells Peter that he only needs his feet to be washed because he already had a bath He means that they already visited the Micvah and they have walked the short distance to the “upper room”. They are “ceremonially” clean but their feet are dirty from the short walk.
But there is a double meaning here. They are clean (physically and spiritually) because of the bath but not all of them (Judas and their feet AND the constant residue of sin). We are clean if we have accepted Jesus as our savior; yet, we have the residue of sin on our life because we “walk” in a fallen world. Everyday I sin in some way; whether it be by thoughts or actions. Everyday I need my “feet” to be washed.
THE POWER OF CONFESSION
Because Jesus is my savior I am “clean” from my sin. However, I do continue to sin and you do too! Therefore, I need to confess my sin on a regular basis. I need to tell God what is happening in my heart and how I have sinned. I also need to share with others that I have sinned.
James 5:16 (NLT)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
I confess my sins to God daily for forgiveness and cleansing, and I confess my sins to my trusted accountability partners for healing. In this I am practicing the act of foot washing (figuratively). Confessing my sins to God is humbling because I am telling Him the truth about who I am and that I still need Christ as my savior. When I confess my sins to my friends I am humbling myself and telling them the truth about who I am. In doing this life will not be ruled by pride, but by a humble attitude.
No one has their life fully together, let’s stop pretending that we do. Instead, let’s humble ourselves before God and others. If we have accepted Jesus as our savior we are “bathed” but we still need our feet to be washed.
Confess your sin to God, and Confess your sin to others – then experience the forgiveness and healing that comes into your life.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What are your thoughts about this devotional? Let me know by responding below – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this passage!