Today, washing feet seems to be a political stunt. Lord Jesus Christ modeled washing feet as a spiritual exercise. First, Ritual washing was practiced by several religions, made it mandatory before devotees and priests enter a sacred place. In the Old Testament, Foot washing was mandatory for priests to go into the temple for service. (Exodus 30: 17-21) In some religions, disciples must wash guru’s feet, to show reverence, loyalty and servitude.
Culture of Hospitality: Guests were always treated with respect. Abraham washed the feet of divine visitors. (Genesis 18:4)
Hygiene: Servants were expected to wash feet of Masters. Slaves wash feet of not only masters but also guests. Wife in Jewish culture was also supposed to wash feet of her husband.
Spiritual Principles of Lord Jesus Christ:
1) Identification: Lord Jesus Christ identified Himself with humanity that too as the least of all humans – a slave; in this context. It is not just ‘tokenism’ or ‘symbolic’ but real identification with fallen human beings.
2) Attitude of service: Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated ‘service’ as the purpose of human existence. Serving God and serving fellow humans is the ‘job description’ of all disciples. ‘Serve, not to be served’ was motto of Lord Jesus Christ. (Matthew 20:28) Hence, each and every follower of Lord Jesus Christ should have that attitude in all aspects of life.
3) Paradigm of servanthood: Lord Jesus expected his disciples ‘ought to wash one another’s feet’(John 13:14) Dominating, Dictating and Directing is the leadership style of the world. Serving, Saving and Sharing is the lifestyle of leaders who live according to Bible.
4) Practice of love and humility: Lord expected all human relationships to be rooted in love and humility. If love and humility are the basis for human relationships; all relationships – husband and wife, parents and children; employees and employed; doctors and patients; seller and consumers; teachers and students; government officials and governed people; etc would be transformed. Hierarchical hatred, envy and exploitation will be replaced by equality and love.
Washing others’ feet is my attitude?