Start with the Feet

Feet.

That’s what Jesus started with when He set His Church in motion.

We tend to view Acts 2 as the Bible chapter that describes the birth of the Church.  The Holy Spirit did come, then and there, as a mighty rushing wind to those gathered together in prayer, filling them with Himself. There was fire and tongues and preaching and salvations and baptisms aplenty at that time.

Still, what happened in the Upper Room of Acts 2 must be traced back to what Jesus did and said in the Upper Room of John’s gospel, chapters 13 through 17. In these pages, we read of Jesus as He prepared the Apostles for their mission to the world and for life without His physical presence.

The hour had come for the Savior to offer Himself as the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. Within hours, He would give His hands and feet to the wood and nails of the Cross. He would be lifted up so that all men would be drawn unto Him. He would finish His work in dying for the sins of the world.

The Savior Serves

It was Passover time. On the evening before Calvary, the Lord and His closest followers celebrated the holy memory of how Israel had been delivered from death and bondage in Egypt. At some point during the traditional and symbolic supper, Jesus left the table. I am certain their eyes grew wide with wonder and that some awkward and confused looks came upon their faces as He began to serve them.

Their Lord, Master, and Teacher sat before each of them – even the one who was the traitor and betrayer,  Judas. Stripped down, wearing only a towel, Jesus carried the basin, poured the water, and wiped from them the dust and grime they had picked up from the trails of Galilee and Samaria and from the choked streets of Jerusalem.

Just days before, Jesus sat in Bethany at another table – that of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, the brother whom the Lord brought back to life. Mary broke a pound-sized box of nard and poured out the pure and expensive perfume upon Jesus’ feet, wiping them with her hair. It was an extravagant and lavish expression of her love.

The aroma filled the house. To Christ, it was a beautiful fragrance of life. To some of the disciples, however, this carried the smell of death. Mary was chided for being wasteful – “How many poor people could we have fed had this ointment been sold?”  This contrived point of lifeless religion came from the hardened heart of Judas.  And Jesus rebuked him for it:  “Leave her alone, she has kept this for the day of my burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me” (see John 12:7-8). Perhaps, this was the tipping point for this apostle. I think it might have been just this encounter that drove Judas to sell out the Son of Man for 30 pieces of silver.

At the Passover, Judas knew what he was about to do and had to watch Jesus as He poured the water and put the towel to his toes. Click To Tweet

At the Passover, Judas knew what he was about to do and had to watch Jesus as He poured the water and put the towel to his toes. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you …”  Jesus taught them this in Matthew 5 during His Sermon on the Mount. Here, He demonstrated it for them all.

It was Peter who seemed most uncomfortable with the whole scene. He told Jesus that his Master would never wash his feet. I can imagine a wry smile on Jesus’ face as He told Peter:  “If I don’t wash you, you have no part in Me.”

The disciples had argued over who was the greatest among them. Now, here was their leader, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, showing them the way of true greatness. “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you,” Jesus told them (see John 13:15).

Blood, Water, Spirit

This is where Church began.

We can see this pictured for us in how the wilderness Tabernacle was outfitted and designed. The altar of offering was first, where the sin sacrifices of animals were made. Next was set the bronze laver, the place of washing. The water stood before the holy places.  Present the blood and then wash. Be made clean inside and out, and then enter into the place of His Presence.

The picture comes to us at the Cross as well. Jesus, His body now absolutely dead after committing His spirit to the hands of the Father, was pierced by a Roman spear. Out came blood and water, the cleansing element for our sins and the cleansing substance for our walk with Him.

Jesus initiated the basis of true fellowship. Christians come together to wash and be washed, to forgive and to be forgiven, to serve and to be served. Through the next chapters of John, Jesus instructed His men in how life would be for them. The Spirit was coming to take up residence within them. This Comforter would lead them into all Truth. He also would shed love abroad in their hearts. This love was and is the defining characteristic of believers in Christ.

It’s all about the feet.

How can we know that we are loved? Simple:  we look at our feet and see Jesus there.

How can we better learn how to love others? We look at their feet and we see Jesus there.

Want a part in Jesus? Let Him wash your feet. And as He has washed your feet, so wash the feet of others.

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