Is the Washing of Feet Only a Jewish Tradition?
|The sacrament of footwashing cannot be simply a cultural custom or ritual for the following reasons:
|In the Jewish society, servants wash the feet of the master; the Lord Jesus, on the contrary, washed his disciples’ feet.
|The Lord Jesus clearly stated the necessity of the washing of feet to have a part with him. (John 13:8).
|The Lord Jesus instructed his disciples to imitate his example. Everyone who obeys his command is blessed.
The apostle John begins his account of Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet with theses words: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the last.” (John 13:1)
Yes! The washing of feet is an action expressing the Lord's unceasing love for us. Not only has he taken away our sinful past, he wants us to walk with him and be like him in his holiness, love, and humble service so that we may share his glory in the future. Let us receive this love with a heart of gratitude.
|What Does It Mean?
|Walk with Christ
|Washing of feet has been the tradition of the Jews since the beginning of the Hebrew culture. As a sign of hospitality, the host would receive guests by offering water to let them wash their feet. The footwashing Jesus performed on his disciples, however, sets itself apart from tradition because of its importance in a believer’s relationship with Christ.
|The implication of footwashing becomes clear when we consider the Bible’s teachings on Christian living. Every believer who has been cleansed through baptism has the duty to imitate the perfection of Christ Jesus. The sacrament of footwashing is the Lord’s invitation to his followers to participate in his divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:4).
|Be Like Christ
|“Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8). These words of Jesus to Peter are certainly worth serious attention by anyone who wishes to have a part in God’s Kingdom.
|To be like Christ requires that we forsake our sinful way of life in the past and walk with the Lord in our daily lives. We need to keep our feet from sinning by obeying God’s word, for the word of God is “a lamp to our feet and light for our path” (Psalm 119:105). Through the constant guidance of God’s word and the help of the Holy Spirit, we will be as pure as Christ and walk side by side with him on our journey to heaven.
|Live according to the Spirit
|The Lord Jesus himself instituted the sacrament of footwashing and commanded his disciples to follow his example. A Christian needs to have his feet washed after baptism, for the Lord said, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean” (John 13:10).
|It is important, therefore, to pray constantly for the fullness of the Holy Spirit so as to always feel his presence, and to submit your whole life to the guiding hands of the Holy Spirit. By walking with the Holy Spirit through obeying his will in your day-to-day living, you will triumphantly complete the journey to heaven.
The Lord Jesus also demonstrated his love and humility when he washed his disciples’ feet. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). Imitating Christ not only involves preserving purity, but entails sharing his love with others. Christians are called to support one another by humbly serving, encouraging, and forgiving each other. Receiving footwashing is therefore an agreement to allow Christ to be the Lord of your life and a commitment to walk in his footsteps. Accept his invitation so that you may have a part in his Kingdom.
|Performing the Sacrament
|The sacrament must be carried out in the name of the Lord Jesus, since the sacrament is performed on behalf of our Lord, and it is by his name that we are cleansed and saved.
|In accordance with the example the Lord Jesus has set, the worker conducting the sacrament pours water into a basin, washes the candidate’s feet, and dries them with a towel.
|The worker who administers the sacrament represents the Lord Jesus; this duty is thus generally delegated to church ministers who have been ordained to serve (such as elders, deacons, and preachers). However, if no ordained worker is present, every brother or sister who has been baptized, has received the Holy Spirit, and leads a godly life may perform the washing of feet.