Great leaders are and remain servants. Ever had somebody wash your feet in a foot washing basin? I have. To be the one washed brought on me feelings of not wanting to expose my dirtiness/stinkyness to the washer. Why did I feel this way? Because I have been the washer of feet as well.
In Jesus' day the sandal was the common shoe worn by many travelers. This coated dirt and all kinds of debris quickly upon one's feet as any journey progressed, especially in the arid environment of the Middle East. A custom of hospitality during those times was to wash the feet of those entering a house. In the Scriptures I observed two times when feet washing were magnified - Luke 7:36-50 and John 13:1-17.
The Luke account was Christ's preparation for entering The Kingdom on our behalf. The John account was the Disciples preparation for entering The Kingdom. Both were quite the teaching moment for the kind of Christ-like attitude and practices believers should display as we live in this world.
The female who ministered to Jesus in Luke 7:36-50 got a base-hit every time she stepped to the plate. The Pharisee? Not so much. The host received three strikes and was out! Let's look at his problems.
- You did not give me any water for my feet (v.44)
- You did not give me a kiss (v.45)
- You did not put oil on my head (v.46)
Now let us observe the lady's actions.
- she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. (v.44)
- this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. (v.45)
- she has poured perfume on my feet. (v.46)
As Jesus was speaking with Peter about the feet-washing, three major take-aways from John 13:1-17 appear.
- "Unless I wash you [your feet], you have no part with me." (v.8)
- "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean (v.10)
- Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (vv.14-15, 17)
The Disciples of Jesus were mainly followers while they were with Him. From washing their feet forward I believe they became a hybrid of sorts - a leader who follows. Christ Himself said, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19) His prayer for His Disciples and future believers in John 17 was that they and we would be unified with Him as He is one with Father God in every aspect. So, if we are true Believers in Christ, following His attitudes and examples set before us, especially in servant-hood, we should further develop as A Following Leader.