Thursday, October 25, 2012
Have You Washed Her Feet Lately?
There’s a part of the communion service which the Lord gave to us, that is rarely practiced in the church today. That is, the practice of foot washing. Scripture shows us that it was an integral part of what He did in that night, taking upon Himself the role of a servant, and washing the feet of his disciples. Actually, he did more than that, for washing the feet was the job of the lowest servant in the house. So, he became the lowest of servants, serving his own disciples.
This was a bit of a shock to the disciples, as he was their rabbi (teacher). Never before had a rabbi washed the feet of his disciples, although at times a disciple would wash the feet of his rabbi in an act of gratitude. Peter was so shocked by Jesus’ actions, that at first he refused to let Him do it.
Jesus went on to explain to his disciples that they should follow in his example, being willing to lower themselves to serving one another, even to the lowest form of service. That was shocking as well, as the disciples were arguing amongst themselves (more than once) about who amongst them would be the greatest when Jesus came into His kingdom.
This concept of servant leadership has gained much credence these days. We find it talked about in business and leadership books, taking on the characteristic of the leader or manager becoming a leader of his team members, making it possible for them to work better. It’s almost a role reversal from traditional management, where the team members were there to serve the manager. Many management experts tout this as the way of getting the team to work more effectively.
One thing is clear about servant leadership, it’s not about lording it over others, or getting them to serve you. More than anything, it’s putting the needs of the whole team before your personal needs. In the family, we could take this to be putting the needs of your wife and kiddies before your own.
There’s another great image of footwashing in the gospels that I want to mention. That’s when Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, drying them with her hair. There was a different connotation to that event, over and above that of service. In that instance, she poured costly perfumed ointment on His feet from an alabaster flask. This was a sign of committing her life to Him.
In those times, an alabaster flask of ointment was given to a girl at her Bat Mitzvah (the female version of the Bar Mitzvah, when she’s 13 years old). She didn’t use that perfume, but rather saved it for one purpose only. That was, when she would accept a proposal of marriage, she would pour out that perfume on the feet of her betrothed, as a sign of committing her life to him.
Washing your wife’s feet is a great way of showing her that you don’t intent to lord it over her, but rather are committed to doing whatever is necessary to make your marriage work the best that it can. It’s not just about the physical washing, although that is part, it’s more about the spiritual connection that you make happen, when you wash her feet. That happens by praying over her, every part of her life, while you are washing her feet.
It’s a beautiful, intimate expression of love; taking the place of a servant, in order to bless your wife. So, when was the last time you washed your wife’s feet?