Tuesday, March 27, 2007


This Sunday night will be our next threefold communion service here at Grace Church. Along with the bread and the cup (which celebrates the past ministry of Christ as He died on the cross for our sins) and the love feast (which celebrates the future ministry of Christ in our life as He serves us at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb) we will also participate in footwashing. But why footwashing? We saw in yesterday’s blog that the account in John 13, which describes Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, was an act that was beyond custom and beyond a simple lesson in servanthood and humility. Jesus was using this action on the final night before His death to teach us a very valuable and very spiritual lesson. But what was this lesson?

As Jesus dialogues with Peter, who was resisting the idea of Jesus washing His feet, He speaks of “washing.” In fact, He says that it is a prerequisite for “having part” with Christ. Obviously this is not a reference to physical washing but to spiritual washing. This speaks of spiritual cleansing which brings about spiritual fellowship with God. If there is no spiritual cleansing there can be no spiritual fellowship. Peter reacts to this by moving to the other extreme and wanting his whole body washed. Jesus tells Peter that those who are “bathed” only need their feet washed. He then goes on and contrasts “washing” with “bathing.” The word for “bathed” speaks of washing the full body while the word for “washed” speaks of washing only parts of the body. Bathing symbolizes salvation (Titus 3:5) while washing feet symbolizes cleansing from daily sin (1 John 1:9). Jesus was using this action to teach the spiritual lesson that those who have truly been saved (bathed) do not need to be saved again when they sin; they just need daily cleansing, they just need their spiritual feet washed. Daily cleansing is Christ’s present ministry in our life today (Ephesians 5:25-27).

So why do we wash feet today as part of our communion services here at Grace? We can use an acrostic from the word “T-O-D-A-Y” to show us five reasons. The letter “T’ stands for “Teaches the need for spiritual cleansing.” When we wash feet we are symbolizing and celebrating that we have a Savior who daily cleanses us from our sin. The idea of washing someone’s feet is in no way appealing. In fact, just knowing that it is part of our communion service often keeps many people from participating. Those who have never experienced footwashing wonder if we get out the Ajax and Brillo pads and scrub the corns. Actually, it’s not as gross as you may think. Washing feet is as simple as kneeling before another person as they put their foot in a basin containing a little bit of water. You splash the water around their feet and then dry them off.

I have found that it is not washing someone else’s feet that is the problem. The hardest part for me is allowing someone else to wash my feet. In fact, do you know what most people do before they come to communion? They wash their feet at home. I do. I take the time before coming to communion to get all the toe jam out and clip my nails. But every time we sin you know what happens? We make Jesus wash our spiritual feet. We wash feet today because it teaches us a very wonderful lesson, that of daily cleansing.

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