Supper was over. The hour was near for Jesus to leave, having loved his disciples to the end. John 13:1,2 states that satan is already working in Judas Iscariot.
Jesus stands up, removes his garments, puts on a towel and girds himself. The disciples were perplexed, I'm sure, as they watched him pour water into a basin.
Peter asked, "Lord, are you washing my feet?"
Stop for a moment and realize they had just come in from being out on the road - even after animals had traveled the road and left cow patties to slop in. Interestingly, these men ate even though they had stinky feet from the walk. Typical guys when they get hungry, right?
Back to Jesus.
"Peter, you won't understand now, but you will after this," he said.
"Never, no way!" Peter replied.
"If I don't wash you, you will have no part with me," Jesus said.
"Lord, not my feet only, but my hands and head," Peter said.
Jesus replied, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."
Pausing here, we understand that they may have already washed their feet before entering the place in which they dined. But even the distance from where they walked - possibly a public bath - could result in a gathering of dirt.
The concept here is that Jesus was about to cleanse his own followers when he would shed his blood on the cross. That would be done once and for all.
Isaiah 53 states that our redeemers sacrifice on that cross for you and me. But you see, throughout the day, even for a moment, we may step into sin as we walk and not even be aware.
We are in fellowship, blessed in worship or anguished in prayer over someone, yet the enemy plants a patty of something disgusting for us to slip in - just a little sin at first, then it's all over our feet, obvious to others.
A little leaven leavens a whole bunch. My sin affects others. It's disgusting and stinks, and I hate it. My feet 'gotta be clean when I sit in Jesus' presence.
"Wait," you say, "We're washed in the blood of the lamb!"
But without the washing of God's word, the Bible, we get dirty feet.
1 John 1:9 states that if we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
"But I'm eternally secure in Christ," you say.
Sin divides healthy fellowship. It won't be by yours or my doctrine, it will be by Psalms 24:2,3, "Who may ascend up the holy hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?"
I love this next verse, "He who has clean hands and pure heart."
Jesus goes on to clarify in John 13:14, "If I then, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you."
Awesome, precious saints of God, Jesus did in a few moments what he spent his entire adult life humbly doing - washing feet, waiting, loving, healing, patiently ministering perfect love from his heavenly father to his own.
Believer, I need to ask you - is you your pastor washing your feet?
You see, none of the disciples demanded it or even requested Jesus to wash their feet. Our Lord saw the need and acted in humility - no TV commercial, no text or phone call, not even in church. It was personal and private, man to man.
We need this. Just because I know Jesus and he lives in me doesn't make me spiritual. We don't just arrive. We need to stay in the word and keep our feet clean. We can step in some dirty spots without intending to. We must clean our feet to minister blessings to our loved ones, especially our brides.
Our kids can smell it, our wives abhor it and mom knows something is wrong. As a pastor, we can't hide it because everyone watches us so closely.
When we clean up in the word of God, we clean up our home.
Pastors, we can't just talk it, we should walk it or take a seat. Ladies, you have washed your children's feet many times, but have you washed your husband's nasty feet when it's needed? Your teenager is sanctified under your roof, but love covers a multitude of sins. There is wisdom here if you ask the holy spirit to reveal it to you as he has promised.
Jesus didn't teach foot-washing just once per year - he washed every single day as he ministered to the people. It wasn't a focus on the outward, but an inward washing for all his disciples.
Disciple, doctor, lawyer, CEO or mother, keep your feet clean. Pastors, don't forget your calling when you do it to the least of these. Board member, it's not your power you hold, but His. Teacher, love your class and show Jesus is real and loves them. Unbeliever, what are you waiting on?
Turn away from the dirt on your feet, and be washed in his blood. Come clean, set free from all the baggage. Jesus loves you enough to forgive you and give you a new life in Him.
Let Jesus wash your feet so you may wash others.
The Rev. David Bennett, of Reedsville, pastored a church near Pittsburgh for nearly ten years after he was ordained by Calvary Chapel from southern California, home of Maranatha Music. He is currently the guest speaker at Windyhill Bible Church, in Burnham. Bennett has been married for 37 years and has four grown sons and six grandchildren.