FOOT WASHING**

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Many denominational religious organizations practice the yearly ritual of foot washing, citing it as a command in John 13.    But is it a command or an example of the depths of servant hood that believers are to submit themselves to out of love for one another?

The setting is the Passover meal on the night in which Jesus was going to be betrayed and became our passover lamb in the atonement of our sins.  After sharing the bread and wine with His disciples, proclaiming His body and blood; He then submits Himself in servanthood to them.  This is a foreshadow of His submission on the cross as well.

John 13:3-17
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

There was a physical need to be met in the actual washing of dirty feet.  History tells of visitors being shown hospitality by this action and from what we see of the footwear and the amount of walking that most people had to do, it’s no wonder that it was a hospitable ritual but this is not an issue today.
Jesus said in vs 15 that He did this as an example and the greek word for ‘example’ is 'hupodeigma' meaning 
a sign suggestive of anything, representation, figure, copy, an example, for imitation, of the thing to be imitated. 

Jesus then goes on to say that a servant is no greater than the master who sent him.  We clearly see the meaning behind His Words as He is the master and He (should instead be served)  just finished serving them by kneeling  down and washing their feet.  

The foot washing portrayed in the bible is not a command to perform a ritual, but it is instead an example of how believers are to humble themselves and serve one another all the way to the lowest measure.  We see in Mark 9:33-36;  Mark 10:35-45; Luke 9:36-48; Matthew 20-28 that the disciples were concerned about who would be greatest in heaven but  Jesus instructed them that whoever desires to be great will be a servant  and in John 13 we see Jesus putting His Words into action in order to show them the servant hood He means.

Examples of this could be in taking care of an invalid elderly brother or sister until their passing.  Jumping out bed at 3 a.m. to help a brother in an emergency.  Patiently encouraging and restoring the weaker sister, time and time again, who finds herself struggling in her flesh.   Setting aside your own projects in order to help a brother with a more urgent need.  Changing your plans to be available when a need arises in the body, etc.  

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
(Philippians 2:3-4)

Unfortunately, there are religious organizations that ritually (annually) perform foot washing instead of seeing it as an example of how we are to humbly serve our brethren every day.  This obviously misses the spirit of true servant hood.  These religious organizations would be of the Anabaptist groups such as Mennonites, Amish, German Baptist etc.

Nowhere in the bible do we find a command to ritualistically perform foot washing and the only other reference we see is in 1 Timothy 5:9-10:
 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

In context, Paul is outlining the requirements of a widow with fruit of being a servant.  She has good works as in bringing up children (if the Lord had blessed her with them), helped strangers, been a hospitable servant to the brethren (saints) and helped the ailing.  In this case it could literally mean that she washed the saints feet as that was part of being a humble servant in that time whereas today we have showers, good footwear, clean streets and vehicles by which to travel.  Today we have no need to physically wash our guests feet but instead as listed above, there are many, many instances by which we should serve (wash feet metaphorically) others.

Servant hood starts in the heart so doing something for someone without the love of the brethren behind it is worthless.

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 3:16)

The application for today would be that anytime believers really need our help, we should be humble and kind enough to willingly serve in whatever capacity they need. We must not think we are too good to do certain tasks.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

God be praised!