House Church Talk - inclination toward ceremonial

Bruce Woodford bwood4d at
Mon Aug 30 23:14:35 EDT 2004

Hi David,

You wrote:
>Was our Lord telling us to do menial tasks for one another or was this
>the institution of the "ceremony of foot washing?" What in modern
>society, with it's dirt and mud-free roadways, might be the equivalent of

I personally do not believe the Lord was instituting a ritual of 
footwashing. He was meeting a real need which was normally met by a 
household slave or servant. Not one of the disciples had been willing to do 
that service and so all had sat through the meal with dirty dusty feet!

The Lord Jesus took the place of the household servant and washed the feet 
of His disciples and then taught them to do the same.

Does that mean that in our culture, where we do not usually wear sandals and 
where footwashing is NOT a way of showing hospitality to guests, we are to 
be "footwashers" anyway?

I think John 13:15 is very instructive in this matter. The Lord Jesus did 
not say, "I have given you an example, that ye should do WHAT I have done to 
you",  He did say, "I have given you an example that ye should do AS I have 
done to you."

Washing the feet of guests in some cultures may be an appropriate response 
to do AS He had done to His disciples. BUt I believe that just as He met a 
very real need, just as He willingly gave humble service to meet that need, 
just as He was sensitive to meet the needs of too, we are to do 
AS He did.

Could I give an example that both convicted me and challenged me at the same 
time. A few years ago, I was part of a Christian male choir.  We practiced 
for 2 hours one evening every week. We were on our feet the whole time and 
took a break in the middle for refreshments.  One week there were no chairs 
in the room where we had our refreshments. This was no problem for most of 
us who just stood around chatting. But one elderly man in the choir had back 
problems and standing on his feet for any length of time was a real strain 
on his back.  Finding no chair on which to sit, he had simply sat down on 
the concrete floor with his back against the wall.

I, along with many of the other men saw him sitting that way but never 
thought to meet his need!
The director of the choir was a few minutes later coming into the room where 
we took our break. But the very first thing that he saw was the discomfort 
of this elderly gentleman. Before he even got himself something to drink, he 
immediately went to another room in search of a comfortable chair. He 
brought it to the older man and helped him get up off the floor and into the 

That made a deep impression on me! Our choir director had demonstrated 
sensitivity, recognized a need and personally did something about it!  To 
me, that was a practical example of the kind of servant attitude and action 
which the Lord Jesus taught in John 13.

Your brother in Christ,

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