So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.John 13:4-5 (NLT)
I love going to the beach. Hearing the waves crash, feeling the wind blow across my face, feeling the warmth of the sun, it’s pretty awesome! I also love the feel of the sand beneath my feet, even squishing up between my toes. There’s really nothing else like it. Sometimes, when I’m sitting, I’ll even burry my feet in the sand, covering every inch up to my ankles. I’m not sure why I do it. Maybe it’s the sensation. Maybe it’s the coolness beneath the sand. Or, depending on how close I am to the water, it’s feeling the ocean water, mixed with sand, wrapping my feet in a blanket of cooling energy. Maybe you have a similar story, or can relate? I’m betting you can – at least for those of us who live near the ocean or other body of water.
But, here’s the thing. Have you ever stopped to consider how disgusting beach sand can be? I mean, if you really think about it, you’ll discover that it’s really gross. Never mind the fact that sea gulls and other marine life use the beach as their bathroom, but to do our dogs and other creatures we bring with us. In addition, the seawater which washes up on the shore can contain sewage from our municipal sewers. In other words, the sand is disgusting! Don’t believe me? Scientists have studied beach sand and found it to be full of horrible contaminants. (Check out this article in Smithsonian Magazine: https://bit.ly/3790aSu)
So, why am I telling you this? Because our feet, after spending just a few hours on the beach are caked with some really gnarly stuff.
This is a similar scene that played out nearly 2,000 years ago when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet the night before his crucifixion. Let me set this up for you.
Jesus and the disciples had borrowed a space in which to celebrate Passover (they were Jews after all). As custom would have it, as one entered the house, a servant, generally the lowliest servant in the home, would wash the feet of those entering the home. This was both hygienic and also to keep the home somewhat clean. Imagine for a moment what this would be like. Travel back in that day consisted of walking everywhere in dusty, dirty terrain – in sandals non-the-less. Within that dust are all of the things we previously discussed. The same roads these men walked were also traveled by donkeys, horses, and other animals. You can imagine what they left behind. So, washing someone’s feet was absolutely gross. The feet were dirty, sweaty, and caked in all manner of horrible things.
As our verse today tells us, there was no servant in that home to wash feet. So Jesus, our Messiah, our Savior, our God, changed his clothes, grabbed a towel, and filled the wash basin and began to wash the crud from the feet of the disciples. This is the humility of our King.
So, why did He do it? Love. God, Jesus loves us so much that there is nothing too disgusting which will keep Him from one of His children (you and me). In addition, there is some great symbolism in this moment: Forgiveness. As Jesus cleansed the feet of His disciples, He was demonstrating how His forgiveness works. You see, there is nothing in our lives that is too dirty, too shameful, too gross, too awful, for Jesus to forgive. He truly does wash away our sins.
As we approach this Easter weekend, marinate on how amazing our humble Savior is. Praise Him for His forgiveness. Remember that your sins are forgiven, and He has washed you clean.