Why Wash Feet?
© 27 Jun 2011 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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A thought on one of Jesus Christ’s last acts in mortality.


During the Last Supper, the Christ took time to wash His apostles’ feet. I’ve often heard about how this was an act of humility and how it re-emphasized his teaching that the greatest should be the servant of all. But I have not heard what, to me, is the more potent message of that event.

The Last Supper stands as the Christ’s final effort to explain what He was about to do before He actually did it. He tried to speak of eating His flesh, gaining life through His death. He tried to emphasize His willingness to dine with and serve His betrayer. He taught about love and about laying down ones life for one’s friends. And He washed feet.

I’ve been told that in the space-time Christ chose for His mortality there was no pavement, no sewers, and no closed-toed shoes, so a person’s feet literally accumulated the filth of the world. To wash His apostles’ feet, Christ touched that filth with His hands and wiped it off with the clothing He wore (a towel). Why did he set aside his clothes and wear a towel for this act? Likely just to keep his clothes clean, but I like to think it might have been an intentional type of his being stripped and crucified without his clothing. I have often wondered if Jesus, perfect as he was, was able to do this without himself getting dirty; but it is clear that no normal person could wash feet and remain clean.

What better type of His forthcoming act could He have given? He laid aside His divine rights and, as the only clean person alive, willing chose to contaminate Himself with all of the filth we gain, both the annoyances and pains we steps into simply by being mortals in a dirty world and the caked filth we bring upon ourselves through poor decisions. He laid aside his mantle and stooped to wash the grime off of our feet.

I am not reticent to serve others; the more talked-about message of this act of our Lord I learned early. But have I ever washed feet? Have I ever helped another to be pure?

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