Some years ago, when I was teaching Sunday School, one of our lessons included the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet.
The students wondered: “Why did Jesus do this, anyway?" Well, he had met his disciples for an important meal and they had neglected to wash his feet. This was a natural, hospitable act in those days of sandals and dirt roads. Feet could be very dusty in dry weather and muddy in wet weather!
After their meal together, Jesus kneeled down in front of his students and began to wash their feet. You can imagine their discomfort. Their Teacher, not a servant, was on his knees performing this menial duty!
When Jesus finished the washing, he asked: “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and you are right for that is what I am. So, if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master, an employee does not give orders to the employer. If you understand what I am telling you, act like it, and live a blessed life. (John 13:12-17 New Living Translation, The Message.)
Did we understand what Jesus was telling them? I decided we could try this out for ourselves. The following Sunday, I carried a large bowl and a towel to the class. The students were wide-eyed. One of them said: “Not my feet!” She decided, though, that she would go outside with the rest of us and watch the proceedings. I washed their feet and they washed mine.
Still, they were puzzled. Jesus taught that we should follow his example but we weren’t seeing any foot-washing going on in our community! Should we be doing this today? If we got on our knees and began to wash our friend’s feet, they would think we were crazy!
Finally, we came to the conclusion that Jesus’ example was one of humility. Perhaps he was asking his followers to see everyone as “dust-free”. In other words, we should understand that each of us is a child of God. We are equal in His eyes. After all, each of us walks on the same ground - each of us has the same relation to God - and each of us has the same need of Christ, the spirit of God.
So, I just washed my husband's feet. I simply asked if I could, and he said yes. At first, he thought I'd lost it! But then he loved it. What he might not have known is, I have been seeing him as dust-free for a long, long time. The foot bath was just a tender way to say "I know who you are, and I love you."
Kay Olson CSB is loving blogging on the Radical Acts of Jesus that are part of a summer project on Time4Thinkers.com. Kay is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher in Pennsylvannia, USA. Click the following link if you are interested in reading up on this, or one of the other 17 Radical Acts being practiced this summer.
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no