Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God. So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him (John 13:3-5)
Jesus was absolutely secure in who He was and where He was going. Security—as in knowing who we are in the Lord Jesus and where our eternal home is located is essential if we are really going to serve the Lord.
Peter was the poster child of insecurity in this story. He first rejected Jesus’ attempts to wash his feet, and then asked Jesus to wash his hands and head as well as his feet—all of it because Peter felt so unworthy. Peter’s insecurities got him in frequent trouble—until Pentecost—when the Holy Spirit assured Peter of the authority He had given him, along with the confidence of knowing he was chosen and destined for eternity.
So there are two main points to this passage:
1) Believer’s need to be firmly secure in who they are in Christ Jesus.
2) Once truly secure, they should “wash other’s feet,” serving others from a place of secure humility, rather than insecure pride or fear or control.
Now, let’s contrast this with what the American Church so frequently does. Conventional Church wisdom dictates that we should put people to serving (doing) as soon as possible—or risk “losing them to another church.” Insecure and barely saved is no problem—as long as a soul is willing to work.
Problem: Most people, like Peter, love to serve—even if their insecurities trip them up at every turn. For the fear of losing a person to another church, the institutional church finds a place to work them—even if that “ministry” takes them away from spending time with Jesus… Even if their “serving” becomes an idol (as it tends to do for people who are rushed in to doing before they mature into BEING a Christian) and causes them to elevate a ministry over Jesus—and over everyone else in the congregation.
So many good folks get terribly bent out of shape because they feel others are infringing on their ministry territory; others quit and go elsewhere if a change in their pet ministry (or class, or social structure) should ever occur; still others replace any other connection to the church with their involvement in a ministry—thinking the ministry—rather than the Lord and His Bride—is the point.
Does this sound like the spirit of foot washing? Of course not. Congregations have been split and even destroyed because insecure people fought against each other rather than “washing each other’s feet.”
UNLESS AND UNTIL WE ARE SECURE IN JESUS—MORE IN LOVE WITH HIM THAN WITH ANY MINISTRY OR POSITION OR TITLE—WE ARE IN DANGER OF DOING GREAT KINGDOM DAMAGE.
Unless and until we KNOW we walk in Kingdom authority, KNOW we have been chosen by God, and KNOW we are destined to live with Him forever—we WILL fight and balk and whine like Peter…
Again, did “doing ministry” make Peter secure? NO! He had “served” for three years by this point, and was still terribly insecure—and therefore a terrible candidate for doing ministry! ONLY deeply intimate exposures to the Holy Spirit can bring the necessary maturity and security needed.
SO, you feel led to wash feet? Good! Go spend time with Jesus in the power and flow of the Holy Spirit, and you will soon come to the place of KNOWING you are truly ready to wash feet—not drawing attention to yourself, but rather to Father God!!! THAT is the true spirit of foot washing…!