What Does God Say About Foot Washing?
May 1, 2009
It is my hope that you have already read "Heart to Heart with Joe Keim" on page two. If you haven't, you might want to do so before reading this article on foot washing.
In the March 2009 edition of the Amish Voice, we published a small article on the front page that covered foot washing and quite a number of our readers were offended to the point that they requested to be taken off the mailing list.
As stated in "Heart to Heart" of this edition, I had no intention of coming across as if I disagreed with foot washing. And might I add, after reading some of your letters and researching and studying foot washing, I realized more than ever before how important a ministry foot washing is to the church.
I would like to ask your forgiveness for teaching on a subject that I didn't understand as well as I should have.
As I read your letters and studied the scriptures, I couldn't help but envision a day when the Body of Christ, those who are born again, will come together and wash each others feet.
I am not talking about people within their own group or culture, coming together to wash each other's feet; I am talking about God's people from varies kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, who have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb, coming together to wash each other's feet. This thought is obviously somewhat frightening and yet moving.
The Bible makes it clear that "every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation", will someday sit together and sing a new song.
And they sung a new song... for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Rev 5:9)
Can you imagine what would happen in our world today, if we as believers would do that now? If we did do that, we could very well see the following take place:
- The Body of Christ would gain immense power and strength to overcome the spiritual battles that are going on in our world today
- It is very possible that more than a million lost souls would want to be born again and go to heaven with us.
- Our churches would be so populated that most would be over flowing into fields and back yards.
But the sad truth is, God's people are often too busy, bickering and quarreling among themselves. They, more than about any other group, are continually putting up walls and treating each other like unbelievers.
When are the "born again" believers going to lay their difference of opinions aside and get back to God's Word? The truth is, not until we lay our pride down, humble ourselves, and come together and wash each others feet.
And with that in mind, here is an article on foot washing that was written by a man named Chris Church. I learned a lot from it and hope you will be blessed by it too.
Chris writes: FOOTWASHING [in Bible times] was an act necessary for comfort and cleanliness for any who had traveled the dusty Palestinian roads with feet shod in sandals. In the Old Testament, a host provided guests with water for washing their own feet in...
Gen 24:31-33 And he said, Come in... And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's feet that were with him. And there was set meat before him to eat...
Judges 19:21 So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.
In Luke 7:44, Jesus complained that Simon had not provided water for His feet...
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
Foot washing was regarded as so lowly a task that it could not be required of a Hebrew slave. In this context the statement of John the Baptist that he was unworthy to untie the shoe (to wash the feet) of the One coming after him, indicates great humility.
[John the Baptist]...There cometh One mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. (Mark 1:7)
As a sign of exceptional love, a disciple might wash a master's feet...
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. (John 13:13-15)
The initiative of the woman who was a "sinner" in washing Jesus' feet (Luke 7:37-50) was more than expected hospitality. Hers was an act of great love which evidenced the forgiveness of her sins (7:47).
Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet (John 13:4-5) has an ethical sense.
The ethical sense is emphasized in John 13:14-15 where Jesus presented Himself as the example of humble, loving service.
John 13:14-15 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.
Compare Luke 22:27
Luke 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
The command to do for each other what Christ had done for them ought not to be confined simply to washing feet. What Jesus did for the disciples was to lay down His life for them.
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Thus the ethical urgency calls for giving our lives in extravagant acts of selfless service. Foot washing is one expression of this.
Washing the feet of other Christians was a qualification for service as a "widow" in the early church (1 Tim. 5:10). Foot washing is here representative of humble acts of service.
1 Timothy 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she [widow] 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.
Martin Luther criticized ecclesiastical authorities who washed feet as an act of humility and then demanded greater humility in return.
The Anabaptists practiced foot washing as a symbol of washing in the blood of Christ and to impress the example of Christ's deep humiliation. Foot washing was commonly practiced by Baptists in early America. Today the regular practice is confined to smaller Baptist bodies, Amish, Mennonites, Brethren, and some others.
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