If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

Why did Jesus wash the feet of the apostles on the night before he died? That task was reserved for slaves—and the apostles’ feet were probably no dirtier on that night than on any other.

The answer lies with Jesus himself. Though he is more than a prophet, his foot washing was a prophetic action in the tradition of some of the great Old Testament prophets. Consider, for example, Hosea, who married an unfaithful woman to symbolize God’s faithfulness to Israel (1:1-2). Or Ezekiel, who cut off his beard with a sword to signify the exile of his people (5:1-4). Or Jeremiah, who smashed a clay pot to illustrate Judah’s fate if they persisted in sin (19:1-15). Their actions spoke volumes to the people they were meant for—often far more than their words.

Jesus’ washing of the apostles’ feet speaks volumes to us as well. It tells us that he, the Lord of the universe, came to serve and not to be served. It also tells us that he expected his disciples to follow his example and become servants, too. And they did, proclaiming the good news of salvation far and wide, even at the cost of their lives.

Whose feet are you washing today? Maybe you are a parent of small children, and your day is filled with acts of service—even literally washing your child’s feet! Maybe you serve at your parish, scheduling lectors or bringing Communion to the sick. Maybe you aren’t able to leave your home very often, so you spend your time interceding for the needs of your family or the world. In all of these ways, you are doing what Jesus commanded. You are washing people’s feet!

For Christians, service is a way of life. It’s the way God wants us to approach the world: paying attention to the needs around us and trying to meet them. It’s also a privilege because we are imitating our Master. So on those days when you are tired of serving, when you can’t seem to take even a small break, picture Jesus kneeling down to wash the feet of his apostles. Let his example give you the strength to keep on serving in any way the Lord is calling you.

“Jesus, I want to serve your people today. Give me the grace to do it.”

Acts 13:13-25
Psalm 89:2-3, 21-22, 25, 27
John 13:16-20


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