Many of the teachings of God are sometimes beyond our comprehension. To destroy the wall of Jericho, God commanded his people to turn around the wall for seven days. To defeat the Median Army, God chose his army by observing how they drink water and gave them trumpets and torches to fight in a war. All these things does not make sense in the human understanding, but when God’s people obeyed him completely, they could see the work done according to the pleasing will of God. Then what about the feet-washing ceremony?
One of the similar commands of God is the feet-washing ceremony which Jesus practiced with his disciples just before the night of the Passover. It was so much incomprehensible even to the disciples and one of them even almost disobeyed Jesus’ teaching by refusing to have his feet washed during the ceremony. And receiving a warning from Jesus, immediately he let go of his thought and obeyed his teacher. Let us take a look at what happened at that time.
John 13:1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Just before the Passover mean with bread and wine, Jesus poured water in a basin and started to wash the feet of the disciples. At that time, Apostle Peter refused to have his feet washed by Christ, thinking that it would be dishonorable for God to wash a sinner’s feet. He had a very respectful and reverent mind toward Jesus Christ and out of humility he did not want his teacher to wash his feet. However, when he realized that his opinion was different from the will of God, he changed his thought on the spot, following God’s commands.
John 13:6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”
When Jesus said that he could not have any part with Christ unless he let Christ wash his feet. He was alarmed because his only wish was to have everything with Christ. That is why he changed his mind as soon as he knew that he was not acting according to the teachings of God. To teach that it was necessary for him to wash their feet, Jesus said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” This teaching is true to all the incomprehensible teachings of God found in the bible. God was teaching his people the same lesson over and over again, “Even though you don’t understand now, later you would know. Therefore, just for now, obey what I command.” He was asking the first virtue as God’s people, the complete obedience to the words of God.
Since Peter also realized the fact through the teachings of Christ, he could obey the teachings even though he could not fully understand the meaning of the ceremony at that time. Then what was the meaning of the feet washing ceremony? Why was it so important? Why should it be performed before the Passover? It would be graceful if we obey and have our feet washed before keeping the Passover even though we do not know the meaning of it. And also it would be even more graceful if we know and keep the ceremony. Therefore, now let us know the meaning behind it so that we may completely understand the ceremony and keep the ceremony with firm faith in God.
Just like all other laws and regulations of God, there was a regulation of feet washing in the Old Testament as copy and shadow which would be fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament.
Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Exodus 30:17 17 Then the Lord said to Moses, 18 “Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it. 20 Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting a food offering to the Lord, 21 they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.”
1 Peter 2:4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. …….9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
John 2:18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
John 6:53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.
John 13:10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.