...having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace
And the God of peace will crush Satan under your shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ with you. Amen.After the Lord's Supper, before his betrayal, Christ demonstrates to His disciples the way in which they will follow him. He washes their feet. Interpreters have long recognized in Jesus' actions the call to servanthood. Indeed, the least shall be the greatest, and the one who is most the servant shall be made most of in God's Kingdom.
Still, more intriguing are the words of Christ to Peter about cleansing. When Peter refuses to receive this act of Christ's humiliation, Christ tells Peter than no one can have a portion with Him unless he receives this act of Christ's humiliation. In response to Peter's request to receive what one might call the "fullest washing," Christ tells Peter that he is already clean, and needs only for his feet to be washed. Judas, by contrast, has not been cleansed.
The reference to cleansing may refer to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the regenerative washing that unites one to Christ and cleanses him from all iniquity. It seems a plausible reading given the contrast with Judas.
If that reading is correct, what then is the washing of the feet? Or rather, is there more to it than simply a model of humble service and hospitality?
I think it may be. In the Bible, there are a few places where feet are said to bring the gospel. There are even more references to keeping one's feet upon the path of righteousness, or the upright way, or the way of wisdom, and so on. Those who have been cleansed are free from the sin of Adam, the stain of guilt that condemns. Yet they are not free from the corruption of the world. Indeed, they are commanded to go into that corruption and bring tidings of good news, until such a time that this gospel will be spread so as to have put the Accuser, Satan, under its feet.
Given this image, Jesus' washing of the disciples feet may model more than service and hospitality. It may also be a modeling of bearing with the sins of others and of drawing their feet back onto the path of righteousness, washing them clean from the corruption of the world:
For many Christians, it is no great burden to share the gospel in word and acts of mercy to those suffering in the world. But what is hard for most, if not all, is bearing with the habitual sins of fellow believers in our families and in our churches. When a believer sins, it is easier to excuse it, refusing to admit the filth that needs to be washed away. When a believer sins, it is easier to condemn it, refusing to accept Christ's command to wash one another's feet, cleansing them from the corruption that comes from walking about in the world:
The world is the household of the filthy, broken, corrupt. The Church is the household of the cleansed, resurrected, and incorruptible. Until the House of God covers the ends of the earth, our churches will be tracking in the filthiness, brokenness, and corruption that is in the world. Indeed, the very house of our bodies retains that corruption until the Bridegroom returns to place us in our new houses. Until then, our call is to wash the feet of our brethren, that the gospel of peace our feet carry into the world will not be obscured by the filth that so easily clings to them.