Our foot doctor
John 13: Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (English Standard Version)
The scene described above from the life of Jesus is extremely important as an example to us.
Serving another person is one way we show the love of God in Christ.
What we may not understand about that foot-washing event is that that was the task of the lowliest person in the household. If one had servants, it was the job of the lowest-status servant to wash the dust, animal manure, and other street grime from the feet of guests and visitors of all kinds.
If your household had children, the youngest child might do it, or, if there were no children, the wife performed the task. It was proper social etiquette and basic hospitality to perform that as a courtesy to your visitors and guests.
Here, Jesus put himself in the role of the lowliest servant as he washed his disciples’ feet. That is why Simon Peter objected, saying: “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Which was his way of saying that he didn’t think Jesus should be doing the chore. Since Jesus was their teacher and master, Peter was saying either that their roles should be reversed or some other, less important person ought to be doing it.
Jesus then told him and the others that they all should be serving one another. He was giving them an example of servanthood.
I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is mess with someone’s feet! Even in our day, with socks and shoes and pavement and daily bathing routines, I still have a hard time even thinking about handling someone’s feet.
On their new TLC network show, “My Feet Are Killing Me,” Dr. Brad Schaeffer and Dr. Ebonie Vincent are podiatrists who handle their patients’ feet on a daily basis. Their treatments and surgery radically transform the lives, as well as the feet, of those who come to them. When I saw the promotional commercial for their reality show, I cringed at some of the feet I saw on the TV screen. Their calling to be foot doctors is truly admirable. The reality of knowing that someone must do a service like that, is part of their calling to serve patients with foot disorders and diseases.
Yes, someone has to do it.
We have a calling, too.
Jesus showed us by his foot-washing example that we all have a calling to serve our neighbor. We should be willing to do the most unglamorous task.
Jesus is and will always be the ultimate “Foot Doctor” for the needs of this world. There are tasks that people we meet need to have done every day, tasks that no one else will do for them. It might not be the most prestigious task, or the job that gets the most notice or praise, or it may be serving because no one else is willing to do it. Yet Christ Jesus calls us to be the “little Christ” to those who enter our daily lives. To not turn up our noses at taking the last place, the servant’s role, or the menial job for the sake of showing God’s love in every way we possibly can!
In my branch of Christianity, we observe the church season of Lent. It is a 40-day season leading up to Easter. It is a time to reflect upon the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the Cross. It is a time of repentance and changing one’s life for the better. During this time, I encourage my parishioners to do something sacrificial to show God’s love.
Some folks will tell me that they are “giving up” something for Lent — such as a bad habit, a certain food, some luxury or pleasure.
But I say it is better to “add” something during Lent. Because of your thankfulness for what Christ has done, add some service to your neighbors and your community. Add extra contributions to a local ministry or charity. Offer to volunteer at a food pantry or meal ministry. Go to your elderly neighbor and offer to get groceries or transport them to medical appointments.
When you and I take on the role of a servant, we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We become stronger followers of our Lord. And we don’t do so to get pats on the back, and we don’t do so thinking our actions could somehow earn us a place in Heaven, because Jesus already did that for us! We do those acts of kindness and service to our neighbor because of the love that was first shown us by God in Christ Jesus.
Our hearts ought to move us to act out of gratitude to God!
In the book of Romans, Chapter 10, we read: “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'” (Romans 10:15). You and I “preach” the good news about Jesus through our actions and service to others.
We are His hands and feet. We are the ones who can bring hope to those who are hopeless, desperate, rejected, and neglected.
It is the season of your life and mine to start being the person who is willing to stoop down and care for those who need someone, and do it with a servant’s heart.
The Rev. Randy Conley is pastor at Hope Lutheran Church, Hubbard Lake.