When He washed my feet

13 Oct

It was a long day, and we were tired. Finally, before us, a table full with food and drink. We ate beside it and talked of the past day. I was surprised to see the master rise from the full supper. He must have been hungry as we all were. He took off one of his garments. Then, He poured water in a basin. He moved toward his brother James, who was talking to his neighbor. Then, James turned, and He knelt before him on the ground. James looked surprised and then stricken. Jesus took his garment and dipped it in the water. He lifted James foot into his lap and began washing it. Everyone stopped talking. We watched. No one spoke. And then we began whispering, “Why is he doing this?” I sat next to James, and when Jesus finished, He looked into my eyes.

I said, “Lord, are you washing my feet?”

Jesus said that he was and that I would understand later. I told Him that He would never wash my feet. But Jesus said to me that if I did not let Him wash my feet, that I could have no part in Him. I then told him that he could wash my feet, my hands and my head.

He knelt before me, and I felt His perfect hands on my dirty feet. They were rough, and warm. He took the cloth and wiped the dirt away. It came off in streaks. Underneath was clean, new skin. He kept rubbing away the dust, the mud, the animal droppings. He kept looking into my eyes as he washed everything away. I felt, in that moment, as I always do when He looks at me, that he knew me, knew every bad thing that I had ever done, and yet I felt no condemnation, only love. It was fierce love unlike anything I’d ever known, love that pierced through me and changed my life. I was His now. Nothing could compare to such a love. It was the same as the time I knew I could only follow Him now, for the rest of my life. I made a choice then, but it felt like the center of my being had shifted, and everything I did was no longer for me, but for Jesus, and everything that came before seemed dim.

Jesus washed everyone’s feet that supper. Some cried, unable to stop. Jesus wiped their tears and the dirt. He said that it was important he do this, that we would understand why later. Some were mad, and they refused Jesus. He did it anyway. When he finished, he took the basin and garment and set them aside. The next day, the Romans crucified him on a cross, the most perfect man who ever lived, and we followed him the whole way, to the cross, and wept at its base.

I write this many years later, although I remember as though it were sealed into my mind. I miss Jesus here on earth, as anyone would miss a friend who one laughed and cried with, but I feel his Spirit constantly, even now as I write this. And I know now why He washed me feet. I often walk through the very worst places in town, where the beggars and widows and cripples live. I bring them food, and water. To follow Jesus is to serve the ugliest, the lost, the forsaken—the parts that are most unclean—just as he placed his hands on our feet. This is what it means to live in Him.

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