Dirty Feet

Ever since quarantine began, mud has been a huge part of my life. My kids go outside almost every day, regardless of the weather, to dig for worms, slugs, centipedes and any other creature they can find buried in our backyard. It gets them outside and moving, and I’m grateful for that, but they inevitably have to come back in at some point…covered in dirt from head to toe.

My youngest son is very tough on shoes, so every pair he owns has holes in the toes. Which means his feet are exceptionally covered in filth when they come in from their backyard escapades.

If you’ve ever washed the feet of a 42-pound, wriggling 3-year-old who just wants to go back outside and hold his “pet slug” you know that it is a humbling experience, to say the least. But I do it, because I love him, and he needs me to care for him.

There’s a story in the Bible about feet washing that looks a little different from my experience. It’s a story that reveals the character of Jesus and the beauty of servanthood.

In John Chapter 13, Jesus is in the upper room just before Passover and he’s about to have dinner with his disciples when he starts washing all of their feet. As we read through the story there are a couple of things we can apply to our lives, especially during this odd moment in history we find ourselves living in.

Jesus wants to cleanse you.

Much like my son, Peter’s not too thrilled about Jesus washing his feet at first. But Jesus says in verse 8, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

In this way, his cleansing of the disciples’ feet represents the cleansing of their sin and the sacrifice he was about to make that would make that possible for all who believed in him. Even though we may be resistant, though we wiggle and complain, we cannot receive freedom in Christ until we are cleansed from the filth of our sin.

Jesus offers us the gift of everlasting life, all we need to do is accept it and offer him our feet. As we reflect on all Jesus said and did during Holy Week, we see the character of a man who loved beyond measure. A week before he was tortured and murdered on a cross, instead of focusing on his imminent death, he was on his knees teaching, cleansing and being a light.

During the hardest quarantine days, the scariest illnesses, and the most uncertain moments, Jesus is there to cleanse us and make us new.

Do this for each other.

When I read about this in The Jesus Storybook Bible to my kids, Jesus explains to Peter and the disciples why he is washing their feet, “I am doing this because I love you. Do this for each other.”

Such a simple and beautiful act of service to the people he loved. He washed their feet, which in biblical times were much dirtier than even my kids’ feet in the backyard. And he did it to show his followers that they should do this for each other as well. Serve. Love. Humble yourself.

Besides our dirty kids, I wouldn’t recommend literally washing anyone else’s feet these days, but there are ways we can serve our friends, neighbors, and community to show them the light of Jesus.

Write a letter to someone in a nursing home, be patient and helpful to the family members you are quarantining with, text your neighbor before you brave the grocery store and ask if they need anything, drive by a friend’s house to say hi from a safe distance, give to local charities and churches who are feeding kids who would normally get their lunch at school. There are so many ways we can humble ourselves and love like Jesus did.

This week, let’s not focus on ourselves. In the midst of our pain, in the midst of our crazy new normal, let’s shift our focus to Jesus. He wants to cleanse you and make you new. Emulate his example by putting the needs of others first.

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