“Jesus said to him [Peter], ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.’”
Many of you will recognize this verse from when Jesus was washing His disciples’ feet. I had to understand the context before I could begin to understand the truth Jesus imparts to us here. At this period in history, people wore sandals so when they walked around town, between villages, etc., their feet would get dirty. This is why they washed their feet when entering a home. They may have been clean from a recent bath, but their feet were dirty from the grime picked up on their travels.
Transitioning to spiritual matters, we can learn a few things:
- A bath is required to be completely clean
- Once we’ve bathed and have walked around, we need to wash our feet regularly
- Washing our feet when we need a bath will not make us clean
A Bath is Required to be Completely Clean
This is where baptism comes into play, not specifically the water baptism, that is symbolic of our spiritual baptism. When we accept Christ as our Savior, He baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, forgiving us of all our sins and making us completely clean. This is our bath.
The bath is symbolic of living a life following Jesus. Eleven of Jesus’ disciples were clean because they followed Jesus with their whole hearts. They bathed in His presence and allowed Jesus to fill them with living water.
Once Clean, We Need to Wash Our Feet Regularly
Just as walking around on dirt roads in sandals will cause our feet to become dirty, walking around in this world will cause our spiritual feet to gather dust and grime. This is evidenced by becoming desensitized to unholy habits and accepting society’s moral bar as our own. God is holy and He calls His followers to be holy.
“For it is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:16
We all gather dust when we walk around this world. Some of the most common dirt I pick up includes perfectionism, the need to be approved through my performance, and letting aggravation and frustration with my own mistakes cause me to be self-critical. God asks for our holiness, not our perfect performance on earth. He shows us grace and I’m learning that we need to show ourselves grace as well.
Showing others grace is exactly what Jesus was doing when He washed His disciples’ feet. They weren’t perfect and soon they would all abandon Him. But He washed their feet anyway and called them clean.
Washing Our Feet When We Need a Bath Will Not Make Us Clean
One of the disciples, Judas, was not clean. Though He followed Jesus physically and appeared to be clean, His heart was not truly clean. Jesus washed his feet personally, but this didn’t make Judas clean because at some point, Judas refused the bath. He chose to keep part of His heart from Jesus.
Judas needed to have his heart cleansed from His addiction to the things of this world. It seems his love for money was greater than his love for Jesus. He would give up everything to gain something that wouldn’t last. And he wouldn’t see the truth until it was too late.
Today, the world tells us one of two things: 1) we are fine just like we are, we can do what we want, when we want, how we want…there is no right or wrong, just our individual “truth” or 2) if we are good enough people who live good enough lives then we’ll be ok and God or the Universe or whatever we believe will make sure we’re ok. Both are lies.
Judas looked the part, acted the part, and even hung around with the right people. But that wasn’t enough to make him clean because he chose not to let his heart be changed by the Holy Rabbi he talked with daily.
Until we receive the cleansing of Jesus, we will remain unclean. And being clean starts with the inside of the cup.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside will be clean.”
Put the first thing first. Clean the inside, take a bath, and then the rest will follow.
The best news of all is that once we receive our bath, we are clean. Nothing can change that and no one can take that away. No matter how dirty our feet get, the Holy Spirit-filled heart is made pure by the righteousness of Christ. Now we are free to live clean, God-honoring lives that flow from our cleansed hearts. Change starts on the inside and God will show us when we need to sit down and wash the dirt off our feet.
Today my heart feels softened by the cleansing touch of Jesus. His forgiveness courses through me and reminds me to remain humble, reliant on Him, and compassionate towards others. He reminds me that it’s ok if my feet get dirty now and again. They’ll clean off, I don’t need to be perfect to be covered by His holiness.
My dirty feet, your dirty feet, they don’t disqualify us from the presence of God. Jesus shows us that He’ll wash our feet so we can sit with Him at the table. And those who need a bath? There is only One who can truly make them clean, so as much as we’d like to throw them in the tub ourselves, we must wait and let God lead them into the water. Continue to pray, continue to lead, continue to love them with the fullness of God’s love. Let Jesus change their hearts, it’s what He does. Jesus will cleanse the inside of the cup and then the Holy Spirit will pour upon them making them clean.
May we remember to check our feet regularly and point the lost to the bathhouse where they can find cleansing, forgiveness, and salvation in Jesus Christ.
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I want to follow Jesus! How do I get started?
“This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
1 John 4:13-15
If you are ready to join the family of God, simply believe and ask. You can choose your own words or pray the prayer below. God hears your heart, simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and let the Spirit lead you.
“Father, I want to be yours. Forgive me of my sins. I believe that you sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and thank you for the gift of salvation through Him. I invite the Holy Spirit into my heart and surrender my life to You. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Feel free to spend time just talking to God and sharing your heart with Him. Let Him speak to you and listen as He leads you forward into new life. Welcome to the family.
Need to talk or have questions? Feel free to reach out and contact me.