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What Does the Bible Say About..Footwashing?

How important is footwashing?


In first century Palestine it was very important. Because people wore sandals and often traveled by foot it was a courtesy to provide them with the opportunity to wash their feet soon after arriving at a house. Most people who practice foot washing as a religious observance today do so based on John 14:4-17, when Jesus washed his disciples' feet. Some people say that Jesus instituted that as a religious requirement, just as he did the Lord's Supper. However, if we look at the incident we may get a different view. After Jesus had washed their feet he said he had done it as an "example" for them. So it was not a specific requirement that they wash one another's feet, but that they learn the lesson of what he had done. Jesus went on to explain the lesson. "The servant is not greater than his master." Jesus had shown that he took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7) and, by washing their feet, showed that they should also consider themselves servants. There are other forms of service than washing feet, and it is whatever service we can do to others that is required by what Jesus did. In this sense "foot washing" may be giving to the needy, helping a friend, cleaning an elderly person's rain gutters, or many, many other things.