John 13.12-17 cont.
12 Therefore, when He had washed their feet and He had put on His clothes He also reclined again. He said to them: “Do you know what I have done for you?”
13 You call Me teacher and Lord, and you say so rightly, for I am.
14 If I, your Lord and Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For just I have given you as example, you should do what I have done for you.
16 In all sincerity I tell you that a slave is not greater than his Lord, neither is the one who is sent greater than the one who sends him.
17 If you know these things, you are happy if you should do them.
There are different opinions about what Jesus said: ”you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Some see this as Jesus bringing in a religious rite that all believers should do. However, there is no evidence in the rest of the New Testament that suggests that this was something that the early Church did.
Following Jesus is not a matter of religious rites, or the observance of religious customs and traditions.
Conversely there are others who believe that Jesus was not speaking in a literal sense, but was, instead, using the washing of the disciples’ feet as an illustration of humble service.
In a similar way we accept that Jesus was not speaking literally about the bread being His body, and the wine being His blood, although there are some who mistakenly follow this.
There are still others who see some spiritual value in the occasional washing of one another’s feet. A reason for this is to display the significance of submitting to one another out of love for Jesus.
In the light of the fact that we do not read of the washing of feet in the rest of the New Testament we can assume that Jesus was speaking figuratively, using the incident to teach by example the true meaning of service and greatness.
Earlier in His ministry Jesus had said: “A disciple (pupil) is not above the teacher. When he is fully educated he will be like his teacher” – Luke 6.40.
This is emphasized by Jesus through the washing of the disciples feet. He was showing them that whilst they were concerned with not ‘lowering’ themselves to do the basic menial task that a servant would do, He displayed true greatness by taking a towel and bowl of water and washing their feet.
Jesus told them, and therefore us, that our happiness is to be found in serving one another in the same way that He serves us.
Today, let us consider how we are to follow the example of Jesus as we look to be the humble servants of one another.