I was uncomfortable. Because of my discomfort, I began to feel guilty. Why am I judging this person? Why do I feel this is beneath him? Who am I to make that call?
I know I have you all confused and wanting to know more.
Someone I respected very much did something that made me cringe. It wasn’t something bad, but it was awkward. I had spoken often to my friends and family about this person, and professed my awe and faith in this person. Yet he did something that made me uncomfortable. Did I still trust him? Did I still respect him? Maybe I was ashamed of him.
In the book of John, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. He didn’t prep them for this. He left it a surprise. Trust me when I say the disciples feet were filthy, disgusting actually. There were no sewers or drainage systems back then. They walked through streets all day long in their sandals or barefoot. They drudged through sewage covered dirt ridden paths. Animal and human fecal matter was just left in open areas – yuck. So, when Jesus offered to wash their feet, it was a big deal.
I am sure the disciples were embarrassed by this. If were a disciple I would be rubbing my filth off my feet, practically sweating that the Messiah was about to see my dirt covered feet. I would be utterly embarrassed by my soiled toes. As I am sure the disciples were too.
Something else came to me today though. Not only would I be embarrassed of my feet, but I might have been a little embarrassed about Jesus. I mean, what if others came in and saw this man I had been calling “The King” in this house washing all our feet? What if others came in and saw Him bent over, like a servant? What if others saw Him washing the filth off like some peasant, lowly man? I might be a little ashamed of my Messiah and for that I would feel guilty.
When Jesus was at a home of a Pharisee, a lowly wicked woman came in and washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and covered his feet in perfume. People were shocked. They were ashamed that this “King” had allowed this sinful woman to touch His feet. What was He thinking? And He calls himself a “King.”
You see in both examples we judge Jesus. We don’t understand what He is doing, so we feel awkward and uncomfortable. Immediately (most of us) will feel guilty for doubting Him.
Just like I had done to my friend, the bible warns us of this judgmental attitude. Don’t judge a man until you walked a mile in his shoes. I am not sure I would want to venture an entire mile in Jesus’ shoes. That incredible, humble man tackled many issues head on. It wouldn’t be easy to have someone pointing the finger at you all the time. I cannot imagine cautiously using words to express God’s message – perfectly.
Jesus knew that the more filth a person had on his feet (or the more sin they had experienced in life), the more devoted the person would be to the faith. Even more so, the more filth the person was willing to have exposed (or the more sin that the person was willing to have uncovered), the more faithful the person would be. Squashing pride with humility is an honorable trait that breeds faithfulness.
That sinful woman got down on her knees and worshipped Jesus as all of us should. She served Him by washing and cleaning His feet; just like He had done for His own disciples. She didn’t care what others thought, just like Jesus didn’t bat an eye at being the servant to the disciples.
When He finished washing the disciple’s feet he said this,
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
He doesn’t tell us to judge the person first. He certainly doesn’t tell us that it is shameful to be a servant to another. He says, “Now that you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them.”
Be a servant for others. Serve. Wash off others filth. Allow your own filth to be washed away. Jesus calls us to do this. Don’t judge others when they actually do something that is beneath them. Remember Jesus. Praise everyone for their work; their servanthood.
Reflection Based on John 13:1-16 and Luke 7:36-50