Get Your Feet Wet
“No!” Peter said. “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t have a place with me.” – John 13:8 (CEB)
Peter was shocked – appalled! – that Jesus would stoop so low as to wash Peter’s dirty, dusty, musty feet. Yet here’s the Great Teacher, the Sovereign One, the Messiah saving souls by bathing soles. It’s backwards, awkward, an affront to the established order.
This prophetic pedicure presents a double-sided challenge: serving someone when you’re accustomed to being served, and allowing someone to serve you when you’re accustomed to serving. Whichever way you flip it, it’s a disruption of power dynamics requiring humility, and that can feel like humiliation to the one who holds power.
Could our reluctance to serve or be served be tied to how we view “servants?” If we equate service with exploitation, then we confuse the humility of servanthood with the exploitation of servitude. Humility is essential to discipleship, and discipleship calls us into mutual service, opening us to witness one another’s humanity as well as our own.
Jesus teaches that discipleship requires us both to serve and be served. We might be more comfortable in one role over the other. Stepping beyond comfort and reversing the roles is spiritually cleansing, and draws us closer alongside Jesus, the great servant leader.
If we are to “have a place” with Jesus, then sometimes we’ll be the one serving – washing the feet of others. And sometimes we’ll be the one who is served. Discipleship means getting both our hands and our feet wet.
Wash away the grit and grime that prevents my servant heart from shining out, sparkling clean. Bathe me in humility so that I might serve and be served. Amen.
Chris Mereschuk (he/him) is an Unsettled Pastor and the Founder of RevCJM, LLC, specializing in church vitality and Legacy consulting and coaching.