“If I then, your lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”-John 13:14
Those of us who live in the West in the 21st Century have no context for foot washing. If we get stuck in wooden literalism, we will believe Jesus actually requires foot washing, but we always have to pay attention to his symbolism.
In the first century in Galilee, the process of washing feet was a necessary, but less than glamorous, chore. The dust from the road would cake peoples’ feet, getting into the cracks and crevices. Foot washing was a job for servants, so when Jesus washed their feet, he willingly took up a distasteful chore that was well below his status. He became a servant, and he asks us to do the same.
In order to serve with the heart of Christ, we must know who we are. We are those in whom Christ dwells; God’s beloved. When we believe in our purity in Christ, we will not be afraid to get “other people’s dirt” on us. We also must know that every person we serve is a divine image bearer and that alone confers dignity. To love another is to love Christ.
Jesus, you humbly, willingly, and lovingly washed your disciples’ feet, which was one more example of your servant heart. You have called us to the same way of love. Open my eyes to see the beauty of your imprint in every face I see and to know the lengths you went to in order to set them free. Amen.