The Church Is the Fellowship of People with Feet that Stink.

No, my friends, I am not being facetious at all.

I have recently revisited the scene recorded in John 13. Jesus was gathered in private with his closest disciples for the Passover. As the evening meal was being served, Jesus got up, took off his outer clothing, wrapped a towel around his waist and began to wash each of the disciples’ feet. No one saw that coming, and doubtless no one knew how to respond.

The first one to find his voice was Simon Peter: “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus calmly made this reply to his surprised outburst: “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Then Peter came unglued: “No! You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus was right; Peter didn’t get it.

Peter was making a reasonable response to a very unlikely scenario. His Lord and Master was wanting to do for him what a servant with a very low standing in the house would usually do. The vision of his Lord taking such a lowly place was too much for him. It was so below His station. It was just … wrong. But you must hand it to Peter; he made pretty quick recoveries.

We know this because the next words from Jesus were these: “‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’” (John 13:6-9, NIV).

After this dramatic interlude to the supper was done and the clean-footed men had something profound to ponder, Jesus concluded, “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” (John 13:14-15, NIV).

As I see it, this is a very practical lesson of the servant-life of Jesus. The only greater lesson was the Cross. How do we “wash one another’s feet”? We serve each other in humility. We don’t boss each other around. We look for needs and meet them. We gently help each other get past our weaknesses to a measure of victory in Christ. We admit that our feet smell bad, too, and allow others to help us get them clean. This is a practical lesson but not an easy one. The servant-life is the Christian life, and we cannot live it apart from the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Next time you notice a brother or sister with “dirty feet,” don’t curse the dirt. Wash their feet.

Smiley Mudd