JUST GET THE JOB DONE
“When He had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ He asked them. ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.'” John 3:12-17 NIV.
What did the disciples feel as they watched their Master go from one to the other, kneeling on the floor; washing the grime from their feet and wiping them dry with a towel? How they must have winced when He untied their sandals, one by one and lifted their dirty feet into the water, each one’s conscience stabbing him because he should have been doing what Jesus was doing!
This was much more than a visual or verbal lesson. This was a mental picture that played like a movie clip in their minds, over and over again — royalty bowing before commoners! It was not only what He did that plagued their minds but the way He did it, without a fanfare or in an attitude of “Look what I’m doing!” He simply did it as a matter of course, as though it were His duty to wash feet!
Yes, He did have a motive for doing the work of a slave. He did it because He loved them and because their feet were dirty and needed washing. He also did it as a visual aid so that they would clearly remember what it meant to follow Him. He did it because He was God…and that’s what God does. He washes the feet of His children because He is a good Father.
Following Him as loyal disciples meant much more than doing great things like preaching and healing the sick — the things that gathered the crowds and made them ooh and aah in wonder. There were also the little things; the behind-the-scenes things that no-one else saw; that drew no crowds; that received no accolades; that were humble ministries that a slave was obliged to do, like washing His disciples’ feet or cooking breakfast for them on the beach.
Jesus did both kinds, not to draw attention to Himself but because they needed to be done to see to the needs of others and make their lives more comfortable. Isn’t that what following Jesus is all about? It’s not about office or position or recognition or rewards. It’s about doing the job because it needs to be done and someone has to do it. The accolades and rewards will come later, and from God, not from men.
Jesus’ plea that they do for one another what He did for them had nothing to do with setting up another ceremony for them to add to their religious rituals. He certainly did not come to earth to wash feet! He wanted them to look beyond the end of their own selfish noses and to be alert to the needs of others. Whatever form that need took, whether it was for money or food or shelter or for dirty feet to be washed was of no consequence. “Just get on and do it,” was His instruction.
Isn’t that what following Jesus is all about? We all have gifts, talents and skills we can use to ease the burden that others carry. “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV. No one can meet the needs of the whole world but each one can help someone else by carrying his load.
Jesus’ instruction was simple. It’s not our job literally to wash the feet of everyone we come across and certainly not to perform a ceremony in the church. What would be the purpose of that? The really meaningful thing to do would be to cook a meal for a sick friend, to take an old lady shopping because she cannot go on her own, to take care of the children when a harassed mother needs time out or to take a house-bound family to the beach when their vehicle is out of order.
It does not take much imagination to “wash” someone else’s “feet”, just a little observation and a little time given unselfishly to ease the load someone else is called to carry. However, the boomerang rewards are amazing. The burden of selfish living becomes lighter and one has tiny glimpses of the heart of Jesus as He whispers, “Well done, son, daughter.”
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.