Foot Washing and Servants Study
SERVANTS COME IN MANY SIZES
I draw four conclusions from the fact that servants are hard to define but
easy to spot.
** Being a Servant Is an Attitude~ Not an Action**
So many of us think, “Tell me what I need to do if I’m going to be a ser-
vant.” Being a servant doesn’t start with what you do; being a servant
starts with the attitude of the heart. It’s not what you do, but why you do
it that matters.
** Servants Come in All Sizes, All Shapes, andAll Colors**
Servants of God may be very ordinary persons with a very ordinary man-
ner of life.
** Anyone Can Be a Servant If He Has a Servant’s Heart**
hat is it that makes the difference between being a servant and not
tng a servant? Is it visiting a nursing home? Is it coaching a youth
eball team? Is it giving money to those who are in need? No, because
ou can visit a nursing home with a servant’s heart or you can do it out
if a sheer sense of obligation. You can coach baseball because you want
serve others or because you want to win favor and have others praise
you. You can give money because you really want to serve or you can give
money in order to curry favor with someone. The same action can be the
‘action of a servant or of a proud person. What makes the difference is the
motivation inside the human heart.
JESUS CHRIST IS ThE MODEL SERVANT FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD
There are two verses that you ought to tattoo on your soul. The first is
Mark 10:45, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
The second is Philippians 2:5, “Your attitude should be the same as that
of Christ Jesus.”
Where do you find servanthood in the life of Christ? There are many
answers to that question, but I find myself drawn again and again to the
Upper Room as the disciples gathered with Jesus for their final meal. They
were all there—James and John, Judas, Peter, Matthew, Bartholomew,
Simon the Zealot, and the rest. The men knew that something was up.
Jesus seemed pensive and quiet. He talked, but He obviously had some-
thing on His mind. Jesus knew that before long Judas would leave, only
to return with a kiss of betrayal. The Roman soldiers would arrest Him,
and soon He would stand before Herod and Annas and Caiaphas and
Pilate. In a matter of hours, He would be hanging on a cross.
The chatter in the Upper Room went back and forth, and Jesus lis-
tened. Suddenly, without a word, He stood up, took off His tunic, and
wrapped the towel of a slave around His waist. Taking a pitcher of water,
He went to the end of the table and knelt down. Without a word He took
the feet of the first disciple, brushed the dirt off, and began to splash water
on his feet. When they were clean, He took the towel and wiped them dry.
He went on to the next man and did the same thing. In the room there
was total silence. No one dared to speak. They could not believe what
Jesus was doing.
THREE FACTS ABOUT FOOT WASHING
In order to understand what this meant, we need to know three facts
about foot washing.
Foot Washing Was Considered an Ordinary Sign
of Common Courtevy
To us what Jesus did was bizarre and unusual, but in those days foot
washing was a common practice when a visitor came to your house. The
roads in Palestine were dry and dusty except when it rained and they
turned into a quagmire of mud. So even if your feet were clean when you
left your house, by the time you got wherever you were going, your feet
would be covered with dust and dirt and grime and grit. So it was com-
mon in those days that if you came to my home for the evening, when
you arrived I would greet you with a kiss on the cheek, I would offer you
oil to rub on your face, and then I would call my servant, who would
kneel down and take off your sandals and wash your feet.
But it was not common for the host to wash the feet of his guests. Foot
washing was the work of slaves. A rich man never washed anyone’s feet
because he had enough servants to do it for him. But Jesus broke the
rules, and that’s why they were so shocked—not that somebody would
wash their feet, but thatJ~cus was the one doing it.2
Foot Washing by Definition Is Dirty, Smelly, and Humiliating
Have you ever tried to wash somebody’s feet at the end of a long, hard day?
Have you ever tried to wash somebody’s feet covered with smelly grime
and perspiration? Have you ever put your face right next to an ingrown
toenail? The very idea seems repulsive.
Foot Washing Will Never Go out of Style Because
You ‘11 Never Run out of Dirty Feet
Everyone has dirty feet. That’s one good thing about foot washing.
Everyone around you has dirty feet. Think about your feet right now.
you happen to be reading this early in the morning, your feet are
bably less than perfectly clean.
Jesus came to a world of dirty feet. He came to clean those dirty feet,
jch means He came foryou because your feet are dirty too.
When Jesus finished, He asked His disciples, “Do you understand
bat I have done for you?” In one sense the answer was yes; they under-
DOd thatJesus had just washed their feet. But His question went deeper.
‘Men, do you grasp the meaning of what I have just done?” In washing
their feet He was giving them a parable, an acted-out object lesson. He
wasn’t just washing their feet. He was saying, “This is who I am. This is
why I have come to earth. This explains the cross. I came as a servant, to
wash dirty feet, to bring you cleansing.”
Jesus then drove the tmth home: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set
you an example thatyou should do as I have done foryou” (John 13: 14-15).
This was a shocking thought because washing feet was the work of
slaves. No wonder the disciples were baffled and upset. No wonder they
tried to protest. After all, these are the same geniuses who just thirty min-
utes earlier were arguing about who would be greatest in the kingdom.
End of argument.Jesus was saying, “If you’re going to be My disciples,
go wash dirty feet, and let the kingdom take care of itself. If you’re going
to follow Me, just get down on your hands and knees and find some feet to
wash. You take care of the dirty feet, and I’ll decide who sits on which
throne in the kingdom.” That’s the message. Then in verse 17 He promised,
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS
I have good news, and I have bad news. The bad news is that feet stink.
If you’re going to wash feet, you’re going to do some humbling things
and some humiliating things, and you’re going to be involved in some
situations that aren’t very nice or popular or that aren’t going to be seen
by the masses. You aren’t necessarily going to be applauded for doing it.
The good news is there is a great reward for foot washers. You’re blessed
if you do these things.
There are three reasons why we ought to wash dirty feet.