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The Meaning of Feet Washing in the Bible

Feet Washing in the Bible

Let’s explore what feet washing in the Bible represented.

Have you ever been to a church service where feet washing was included?

This practice may seem strange to us, but there is a lot of spiritual significance behind it that applies to us today.

The Main Verses of Feet Washing in the Bible

This passage speaks of feet washing:

John 13:3-5 ESV

3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

One of the reasons for washing feet in Bible days was to express an attitude of honor and respect.

When it came time for Peter to have his feet washed, he wanted to refuse, because he felt that Jesus was above him and should not be washing his feet.

But Jesus said to them:

John 13:12-16

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

The message was simple: Even if you think you’re better, lower yourself and serve others. Then, God will lift you up.

Most people get the gist of what Jesus was doing, but they don’t go further. There is more to feet washing if you read a little closer.

The Common Practice of Feet Washing During Bathing

The practice of feet washing was a common part of bathing.

Think about our bathing rituals today. We rinse, scrub our bodies and hair with soap and water, then dry off.

In Jesus’ day, it was like this for them, minus the indoor plumbing. But they would also wash their feet at the end of the normal bathing process.

Why? Well, again, there was no indoor plumbing. Water was more scarce. So, many people would walk to public bathing pools or other bodies of water and bathe there.

Then, they would walk home on dirty, dusty roads. What part of their body do you think got the dirtiest on their walk home? The feet!

When they arrived home, they washed and dried their feet.

The Feet Represent Our Daily Walk With God

You see, the Bible teaches that our feet represent our “walk” with the Lord. Every day, we have to get up and walk.

The feet symbolize our commitment to walking in God’s ways, and our steps should be ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23).

The story of foot washing also teaches us to be vigilant about our walk with God.

Jesus has already thoroughly cleaned and washed us, meaning he’s already saved us. This is what Jesus told Peter:

John 13:10a

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.

As they did in Jesus’ time, the only thing we need to clean daily as we journey home is our feet (our walk).

How do we clean our feet? By spending time in God’s Word:

John 15:3

Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

Ephesians 5:25b-26

as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Along our Christian journey, we accumulate dust from these dirty roads. We rub shoulders with the world. We make mistakes. We take in every hostile thing society puts out.

If you do not get in God’s Word, that dust stays stuck to your walk. And this is how the enemy devours us. This is why you're troubled. Because the enemy is eating the dust we refuse to wash from our feet:

1 Peter 5:8

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Genesis 3:14

The Lord God said to the serpent,“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

As it turns out, one of the best things you can do if you don’t have time to shower is wash your feet!

Today, remember to take some time for God’s Word. When you do this, Jesus is the one washing your feet, cleaning all the negative junk off.




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