The footwashing section of the Passover service is an annual reminder of the way we are supposed to live our lives every day. We are to be "foot washers" to each other, any time, any place.
[Gary Petty] We have coming up the Passover in about six, seven weeks. And we will be doing something that is quite common. I mean if you talk to a Protestant, they would understand what we’re doing as we take this bread and this wine as a symbol of Christ’s blood and body for our sacrifice. There’s something else we will do that would seem quite strange to most people, and that is the foot-washing ceremony.
Now when we go back to the first century at the time of Jesus Christ, of course, it was common in the Middle East for people to wash feet when they went to visit somebody. And the reason why is they wore sandals. And if you were in Northern Europe, your sandals would be thicker and would cover most of your feet. But as you, as you move down through Southern Europe and you got into the Middle East, sandals tend to be very open-toed and it just strips of leather. And especially in Judea, when you went into somebody’s house, it was considered not only an act of hospitality, but it was practical the people would take off their dirty sandals. Well, of course, their feet would be dirty. I mean there’s no pavement, they’re walking dirt roads and dirt streets.
And so they would go in and there would be common. You would go and you would take off your sandals and the host would usually give you a basin to wash your feet in. Now, if the host had servants, they would have the servant wash your feet, which was quite an honor. In somehow homes and we know from history and recording that the women would wash, the wives would wash people’s feet. Usually, the householder, the men who owned the house and the wife would not wash feet, but sometimes the woman would. The man who owned the house would not wash feet. You know, you came into his house, he supplied the water, maybe a servant, maybe his wife, and washed your feet. And it was hospitality and there was a practical sense too. Most people would leave their sandals then at the door and they walked through the house barefoot. They didn’t usually wear socks, but they would walk through the house with clean feet.
We’re going to be doing a foot-washing ceremony. Now, for some people who will come and they’ll watch the Passover, maybe a teenager for the first time, and it will seem sort of strange that these people get down on their hands and knees and wash someone’s feet. Especially since we know that everybody washed their feet before they came. And they have to take their socks off and their shoes off and they have to wash feet and dry them off and then switch places. It’s like, why do you do this? Why do we do that? I mean, we have pat answers. Mr. Luck was talking about how we just have quick answers for everything. We have pat answers. We do it because, well, Christ commanded us to. I’m going to go through foot-washing today. I want to look at it for what Jesus Christ said and why, and then I want to explore the Scriptures and this concept of service that he talks about. And then I want to end with another foot-washing. There’s another foot-washing in the Scripture that ties into the foot-washing that Jesus did. It helps us understand the humility involved and the person who washes someone’s feet.
So let’s go to John 13 and this will be read in its entirety on the Passover evening. I want to read through it again and get us to start thinking about this. Unfortunately, this passage is read usually just about once a year, on Passover, because it deals directly with what we do that evening, what we’re doing and honoring God. But let’s look at it now as we begin to prepare. I mean, I know six weeks is a long time. We should begin to be preparing for the Passover now. Verse 1 of chapter 13, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended…” they were actually having a huge meal, big meal, probably a type of a Seder that they do today in the Jewish society because that was common at that time too. He was now going to change some things though. You know they were eating lamb. We don’t eat lamb. He was going to make some changes in the way the Passover service was conducted and He would, now that the meal was ending, He was going to give the bread and wine and say, take this as symbols, My body, My blood.
But before that, in between this time when the supper sort of ending and the time He gives them the wine and the bread, before that, He does this. “And supper being ended, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. And after that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with a towel which He was girded.”
Now, I want you to maybe transport your mind back, and you’re one of the disciples. You had washed your feet before the meal. You’d gone through, I mean, this was just something you did when you went into a place. Your feet were washed and Jesus didn’t wash your feet. The household owner, the person who was the owner, the master didn’t wash the feet. The servants washed feet. It’s easy, once again, Mr. Horvath said last week how we can over-judge Peter sometimes. It’s easy and I’ve heard people say, well, Peter’s just being so rebellious here. I want you to understand what he’s doing and the context of the world in which he lived. His whole life he had gone into people’s homes and had his feet washed. He’d had people come into his home and had their feet washed. Maybe they washed them themselves. Maybe a servant did it, but this was the custom. But you as the master of the house never washed another person’s feet. They were coming into your home. They were honoring you. And here was and by this time we know that Peter believed He was the Messiah because Jesus had asked him. You’re having the Messiah get down on his hands and knees and for no apparent reason wash your feet.
Peter said, “No, no, no, I will wash your feet. This is impossible. We can’t have the Messiah, we can’t have the Christ wash the feet of me. I’m unworthy of this. This isn’t right. This isn’t good.” He could not understand. So we see, “When He came to Simon Peter. Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, are You washing my feet? Me? You? The Son of God? You can’t wash my feet. This is wrong. This is not right.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.’ He says, ‘I know Peter, this makes no sense, but there’s going to come a time, you’re going to say, ‘I know what He did.’ But Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet! You can’t. That would be a disgrace on You, that would be dishonor towards You to wash the feet of a man like me, a sinner. I’m nobody and You’re the Messiah. You can’t do this.’” It was beyond his concept of what God does to even accept this.
Now, Jesus doesn’t get angry with him. He just says in verse 10, or I’m sorry verse 8, He says, Jesus, answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” He says, “No, you have to do this if you really want to be My disciple. If you really think I am the Messiah.” See, there’s a lot of things not said in here that are all implied in this conversation. “If you really think I am who you think I am, that you have to let me do this because if you don’t, you’re not My disciple.” And Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Now, we see his real attitude. “Oh, if this is your requirement, scrub me from head to foot! If the requirement is for You to wash me, wash every inch of me.” This is his real attitude “Because You are the Messiah, I know who You are, I know You’re the Christ, so just scrub me down if that’s what it takes.”
And Jesus said to him, “’He who is bathed you don’t need to wash his feet, but it’s completely clean; and you’re clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean.’” Judas Iscariot, of course, was going to betray Him. “So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and sat down again,” now you know they’re all just staring at Him, thinking “What in the world just happened?” They have no reference point for this. They have no religious ceremony for this. They just know you wash people’s feet when you go into the house because that’s a practical part of hospitality.
And here’s what He says to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?” And of course, there’s no answer because they’re all just staring at Him. Of course, they don’t know. “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” He says, “You say I am the Master…” and we’re going to find this concept of Christ as Master, which is interesting. Our Father, Christ leads us to the Father. We are centered on the Father, but who teaches us? The Master. That’s what that means, He’s a Teacher. He’s your Teacher. There is someone who teaches us all this and He says, “You say, I am the Teacher, and I am the Master and you’re right, I am. So when I show you to do something, you do this for each other. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” He said, “You are a servant and I am the Master and I as the Master have taught you this, therefore you do this.”
And so we get together once a year on the night that He did this and we wash each other’s feet. But there’s something beyond the ritual. There’s something beyond doing this that we’re to understand, and it is the idea of being a servant. The Creator of the universe, because it says “God made all things through Christ.” The Creator of the universe got on His hands and knees and washed the feet of human beings. You know what’s interesting in the old pagan mythologies, there is nothing like that. There’s nothing like that, because it was always beneath the “gods,” to do something like that. Here we have the Creator getting on His hands and knees and washing people’s feet to show them you are a servant.
The great lesson of the foot-washing is as we become more and more like Christ, we become more Christ-like as God’s Spirit works in us. We become more and more a servant. And foot-washing isn’t something we do just once a year. Foot-washing is an attitude. We become servants with a foot-washing attitude. A group of people with a foot-washing approach to life and it starts with our approach to God and to Christ and with each other and extends out beyond that, but this is where it starts. Remember, Jesus here isn’t telling the world, He’s telling His disciples, you must wash each other’s feet because you are servants. This is what service is all about. So what did He mean by that? You know, it’s very interesting that Jesus gave a lot of parables where He describes His followers as servants and He actually talks about different kinds of service.
I’m going to talk a little bit about different kinds of servants and then show you where this goes even farther than that. We’re going to start talking about service. We’re going to be servants to Christ. If we’re servants, what does that mean in our relationship to Him and what He wants us to do? When you look at the types of service that Jesus talks about in His parables, the first one He talks about is hirelings. Hireling is an interesting word because it just means that the person who works to either get paid or because he’s afraid of punishment. Hirelings work because they want the reward of working or they’re afraid they’ll get punished if they don’t.
The thing about hirelings when it comes to service is that service in the way that we are shown through the example of Christ if He’s our teacher, the type of service we are to have towards God and towards fellow man. Service always involves self-sacrifice. Real service involves giving up time, giving up your desires at times, giving up resources, giving up energy for the service to God and to others because the servant is not greater than the master, and if the Master could get down… if the Creator of the universe could wash feet, you and I can wash feet, not just as a ritual, but as a way of life and the way that we treat other people.
Jesus talks about hirelings in John 10. John 10. And what He does is He compares His attitude, His attitude towards His sheep. Specifically, we’re talking about the Church and the attitude of the hireling. Verse 11 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for His sheep.” So as the shepherd His whole life, and we see what, how He lived as a human being, His whole life was given to take care of His people. He died for humanity. I always find it interesting as a human being He became overwhelmed in this service. He actually had to flee away from the crowds from time to time. He got tired. He got overwhelmed with this service He was doing as a human being. Fortunately, as He’s returned to be the Son of God, the Word beside the Father, He never gets worn out or tired of His service. But as human being He did. But He says, “This is the example, My whole life is given.” And He would die, which we will commemorate at that Passover service. “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling who does not care about the sheep.” Christ said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and have known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I will lay down My life for the sheep.” Now we’re going to commemorate that in the Passover. He laid down His life for the sheep, but He compares that to the hireling, the one who appears to serve. And remember every one of us, every one of us is a servant. You know, every person that participates in that Passover service who has repented and been baptized, received God’s Spirit. Everyone there is a servant. And as a servant of God, we wash each other’s feet. Every one of us is to spend our lives as Christ did in service to others as a servant to God and to fellow man.
When we look at the hireling, we see one who does it for gain. I remember a man telling me a servant he had heard years and years ago back when we were the Radio Church of God, and this would’ve been in the 60s. And the sermon, he said, really threw him for a loop. It just disturbed him and just for years and years and years. He said that the sermon was given, that your position in the Kingdom will be determined by your position in the Church today. So the example was given, if you want a good position in the Kingdom, like become an usher, because that will guarantee you a position in the Kingdom.
And if you really then want a better position, become the head usher. Now, I don’t know what you were supposed to do with the other head usher. You know, it’s like the mafia, the head usher disappears and a new head usher appears. And then if you really want a better position, work until you become a deacon, and then an elder. “Of course, you can’t become the pastor because I’m the pastor,” this guy said, you know, but he said. There’s something dramatically wrong in that because it’s a hireling approach to service. We serve because we love God and because we love the people we serve and every one of us are servants.
Now, there’s different jobs, right? Well different jobs, but we’re all servants. Jesus gives another parable about this in Matthew 20. Now, Matthew 20, is sometimes used to argue capitalism or socialism, you know, the goods, the pluses, and minuses, capitalism and socialism. This is not what this is about. Capitalism, socialism, and communism were not economic ideas in the first century. They didn’t exist in the first century. The Roman Empire had a very strange idea of economics that eventually collapsed, caused such inflation, it collapsed. Or part of it collapsed. But this isn’t about modern ideas. If you look at verse one, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner…” This parable is a story about the Kingdom of God and the landowner is God, okay? So we had to zero in on what this is really about and what it is, He tells the story about how this landowner has a huge crop and there’s some laborers, farm laborers, and he, you know, he goes to the group and he says, “I need some workers.”
Now, when I lived years and years ago in Southern Texas, worked for a radio station there, I used to see this all the time because there are big ranches, big farms around. And they had migrant farmers who would come in. And in the summertime all through the spring, summer and up until the fall, you could go to the town square in these little towns and there’d be all these migrant farmers and they would drive up in a pickup truck and say, “I, you know, I need this guy and this guy and this guy. I need that guy could do this. The guy to that,” and he’d raise a hand, they’d load up the truck and off they go. Now, the guy would come over to the truck. Well, this is sort of what’s happening. There are all these workers there and the farmers are coming up and saying, “Hey, I need eight guys to pick grapes. Anybody here have experience picking grapes? Okay, I’ll take you eight. You know, “Jump in the wagon, let’s go.” So that’s what’s happening here. This is something that people would have seen happen in that kind of agricultural system. There are laborers who need a job. And he said he would give them a denarius for work.
Now, that’s very important because a denarius was the standard day’s wage throughout Judea. So in other words, this guy isn’t trying to take advantage of anybody. He’s saying, “Come work for me. I’ll give you a more than a fair wage. Okay, you get a fair wage, just come work for me. You know, I’m not trying to cheat you.” So I’m sure everybody wanted to work for this guy. And off he goes. By mid-morning you realize it’s not working. “I don’t have enough men.” He didn’t say the workers were bad. He just said I don’t have enough workers. So he went and got some more workers. Mid-afternoon, went and got some more workers. An hour before sundown, before they were going to quit, “I’m not going to get it done.” He went and picks up every worker that’s left, brings them in and gets his crop in.
And so the landowner is happy, his work has been completed. And now he lines them up and he’s so happy. Let’s pick it up in verse 8, “So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last of the first.’ And with those who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.” They each received a day’s wage. You can imagine the shock that “We’re going to get an hours worth of pay, but at least we’ve got some pay today.” They get a full day’s pay for working an hour. Now they’re going away happy.
Now, you can think about the guys who worked all day. They’re thinking, “Oh, we’re going to get a big bonus,” right? “We’re going to get a huge bonus because we worked all day.” “And when those who were hired about the eleventh hour…” I’m sorry, verse 10. “But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day. How dare you make them equal to us?’”
“Yes, we made a contract with you. Yes, you called us earlier in the process. Yes, you promised us and you delivered at the end, but how dare you have somebody else come in. In fact, you know what we need to do is just call a general strike and bring you down because this is not fair.” Now, remember, this is about the Kingdom of God, okay? So we got to figure out what the lesson here is. So he goes on, here’s what the landowner says, “But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what I own or my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good.’”
The point he makes is, is that it’s mine to begin with and this is about the Kingdom of God. The workers had no jobs. They got a job because the landowner went and gave them a privilege to come work. That’s called grace. When someone gives you a privilege that you do not have, that’s called grace, that’s favor. God gave them favor. God said, “Do you want to work for Me?” And they said, “Yes.” And He says, “I’ll pay you. I’ll give you eternal life at the end of the day.” And they said, “Great.” So I know we can draw from this what’s being taught here. And all through the process, God kept calling more and more people. And at the end, it’s like “You mean they get the same thing we do?”
Now, there are various rewards talked about in the Scripture, but that’s not part of what we’re talking about today and that’s not what this is about. There’s other passages to talk about that. This was talking about the idea that all of us are called and realize when it comes to God’s calling and what He does in someone’s life, our seniority does not matter to Him. A person who has been at this for 50 years and a person who has been at this a six months are both just as important to God. In fact, we should be proud, not proud, we should be thankful that we’ve been at it for 50 years. What a privilege, because you and I didn’t go to God and say, “Hire me. I wish to be your servant.” God called us to be servants. And I have 50 years of doing this. Wow. “Oh wow, this person, they’ve only been at this a year and when Christ is back, don’t I at least get like resurrected first? You know, and maybe they come up five seconds later, you know.” It doesn’t work that way.
Hirelings don’t get that. Hirelings are always looking at other Christians and saying, “I’m better than you. You are not equal to me.” “Remember, you made him equal to me. You’re not equal to me.” And there’s the problem with the hireling. They’re in it for the wrong reason. People sometimes will come and say, “We need more organization in the Church to serve each other.” And there needs to be organization to serve each other in the Church. But you know what? If there was no organization at all, the service should be done anyways, because it’s in our hearts and minds to do so. People will come and say, “Why don’t we do more service projects outside the Church? Like, let’s go work at a soup kitchen.” Do you know what my answer is? Go do it. I think it’s great. I’ve worked at homeless shelters before. I’ve done that. Go do it. “Yeah, but we need to do it so we can what? Show people our church.” But then you’re doing it for PR. You’re not doing it because you love the people you’re going to go serve. Jesus Christ didn’t do His stuff for PR. He did it because He loved the people He served. And remember what I said last week when I talked about some of the healings I’ve seen. Jesus never healed a converted person in His entire ministry, not one, but He was sure taking care of people.
This has to be who we are, not what we want to get out of it. This brings us to our second definition and it’s just the servant. Now, a servant is little different than a hireling because a servant wants to fulfill what the master wants. I mean you think about all the parables Jesus gave about the servants who are watching, taking care of the master’s business, who are prepared when he shows up. That’s always been a great and a good favorable light. Then he talks about servants who weren’t watching, who weren’t preparing, and they’re not prepared when the master shows up. So He gives a number of parables about the servants and that way.
There’s another parable I want to go to in Luke 17 about servants because this seems like such a strange answer to the request of the disciples. This is Luke 17:5 Luke 17:5And the apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith.
American King James Version×, “And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’” So as a group, they were discussing some things with Christ and they said, “Help us to have more faith.” And then what He says next could be a little discouraging. He says, “So the Lord said, ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea” and it would obey you.’” He says, “Okay, if you had just the smallest little bit of faith, God would do great things through you.”
Okay, give us more, increase our faith. And then he gives a parable that seems strangely detached. He says, “And which of you,” this is all part of the same discourse. It’s all part of the same discussion. “And which of you having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat.’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I’ve eaten the drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink.’” Now once again, this made perfect sense in their world where servants and that some might be slaves. They didn’t necessarily be slaves. There were bondservants and then there were just people they hired to do things.
And so the master of the house comes in the guys that are working in the field and the barn and they did all this and all the servants come in and he doesn’t say, “Hey guys, sit down. I’ll serve you supper.” No, whoever has the job of cooking supper prepares it for the master first. They all understood that. That made perfect sense. And there’s no one who would’ve said: “No, that’s wrong.” And then He makes this comment to them. Remember this is an answer to increase our faith. He says, “Does he,” or the master, “thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded to him? I think not. So likewise you…” likewise, you apostles, you disciples, us, we’re all disciples of Jesus Christ. “Likewise you, when you have done all those things which are commanded, you say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” What?
Okay, you’re a servant. You’re not a hireling. You’re not in this just for reward, but you’re in this to do the Master’s will. I have the type of personality that, I mean, I like to know what I achieve at the end of the day. So I have a monthly calendar. Oh, by the way, there are monthly calendars for March back at the information table. I have a, well actually I have a three-month calendar, a monthly calendar, a weekly calendar, and a daily calendar. My daily calendar has a list of all the things I have to do that day. And I get a great thrill when I check it off. And if someone calls me and I spent a half-hour on the phone with them, I figure that was like a counseling. So I write it down and check it off. I said that, and two people in Murfreesboro come up said, “I do the same thing. I thought it was like really weird.” I said, “No, look, I talked to this person, and so I write it down on my things to do and it wasn’t on my things to do, but then I check it off like, wow, I got to do that.”
And so when the day’s time, usually I don’t get through everything I want to do because I’m trying to accomplish so much. But if I didn’t make the list, you know what I would accomplish in a day? I’d be on the internet saying, “Ooh, look at that. Ooh, look at that. Ooh, look at that. Look at that little dog laugh. Isn’t that funny?” So I understand this parable. Increase our faith. Just give me the list and I’ll check it off. I have done my duties and then He says, “Yeah, you got to do your duties, but you check off those duties, check off all your duties and then ask God, did I earned salvation today?” “God, I checked off everything on the list today. Pretty impressed, aren’t You? I checked it all off today God. Do You finally love me?” People think that sometimes. “I checked it off today, God, do You finally love me?”
Passover is… “I have to have My Son come die for you just to get you back. So if I don’t… if you can’t figure out I love you from that, there’s no way checking the list offs going to work.” If you just do your duties, it’s not enough. There has to be a relationship between us and the Landowner. It’s not just about duties. Duties are important by the way. And the more we are centered on doing that work and doing those duties, the more sometimes God can produce in us. But I tell you what, it can also be a way of dragging us away from God because we get pretty proud of our duties. “Look what I did today.” You got to remember God’s never really impressed with what you did today.
I mean, He might say, “Hey, good job,” but it’s not like, “Wow, you know what? I could just take off being God today. That person did such a good job I’ll just let them be God today.” We forget who we’re dealing with. This is the Almighty God.
That’s why it’s interesting in Matthew 25, I won’t have to turn there, but in that parable about the sheep and the goats, Christ, as He comes back and He separates the sheep and the goats. And the sheep, He says, “Well, you visited Me when I was sick and when I was in prison and you serve Me.” And they said, “When did we do that?” He said, “When you did it to all these little ones.” What’s interesting is they didn’t even know they were doing it. They did it because it’s who they were. “Oh wow. Okay. We get rewarded for this?”
Because the more Christ-like we become, the more we understand what it is to serve God and to serve our brethren and by extension then, serve neighbor. But, you know what’s in that priority, God, our brethren, our neighbors. Then, of course, families in there because that’s the closest brethren we have but physical brother, spiritual brother, right? And it’s in that order.
There’s another word that’s used in the Old and New Testament, but it’s the word steward. Steward’s an interesting word because a steward is a servant, but a steward is a servant who is given more and more responsibility until the steward is actually in charge of other servants. But the steward is still a servant. Okay, in American business, we tend to think of people moving up through this chain so that you have more and more authority and you’re less and less a servant. But a steward, it was still a servant.
One of the most interesting aspects of this is back in Genesis, Abraham goes to God. Now, once again, we have to go back in the time period to understand it. Abraham was the chief of a tribe, a large tribe. It was such a large tribe that when he went into Egypt, Pharaoh noticed the caravan coming in. You know, if it was just, here’s Abraham riding a camel and here’s Sarah riding a camel, why would anyone take notice in the biggest, most populous empire in the world? Because he came in the head of a nomadic tribe.
At one point, he fights a battle and it says he has hundreds of trained servants. It’s interesting, trained servants. He has no physical… these aren’t his physical progeny. He has a tribe in which he, I don’t know, he may not be related to anybody physically, but it’s his tribe. And he is the leader of that tribe. And as the leader of a tribe, he needed a son to be an heir. And he had no heir. He had no one to become the chief when he died. And in these nomadic tribes, that’s terrible. You know, and they just usually break up fighting each other. You probably end up with 10 tribes because they fight each other. You know, who’s going to be in charge of the tribe? There was no heir.
And he goes to God and says, “What am I going to do?” In Genesis 15 and he says, “Because I have no physical heir. And my heir is Eliezer of Damascus.” Now if you look up Eliezer of Damascus, it’s his steward. It’s his servant in charge of his servants. And he says, “You know who the heir is, you know who becomes the chief of the tribe when I die? My servant, my steward. But it should be someone from me. It should be related to me.” And God says, “That’s right and I’m going to give you an heir.” Stewards were very, very important in society not only at the time… more so in a time of Abraham, but even in the first century where people actually owned slaves. Because when you became a steward, as a slave, you were given immense responsibility and sometimes wealth by the people who owned you. And that’s what makes our next verse we’re going to look at very interesting, and let’s go to Galatians 3. Galatians 3.
So here we are, this foot-washing service, teaching us to be servants, to have this humility to self-sacrifice. Because really when you serve, sometimes you’re not doing what you would rather do. Just like Jesus Christ would rather have not been crucified. He tells us, “Well, is there any other way to do this? I wish not to do this, but it is what I must do.” Let’s go to Galatians. Galatians 3. God isn’t much interested in hirelings. He wants servants, but it can’t be just checking off the list. He wants stewards which are individuals that will help run what He’s doing, that will take charge of what God has given them.
Now, when I say a steward, you think, “Oh well you must mean the deacons and elders.” Everyone here is a steward over what God has given to you. Everyone here has abilities. Everyone here has God’s Spirit and you are a steward of what God has given to you. God does not, in the end, judge us by how much we had. It’s what we do with what we have. It’s with what we do with what we have. That’s why I am fully convinced that I expect that in the resurrection, God willing, I’m there, I’m going to see a lot of widows I’ve known, they’re going to have a lot greater position in the Kingdom that I’m going to have. Because of what they did with what God gave them.
So we don’t see it this way, but we don’t see any of these parables this way. It’s not the way we see life. Here we have in Galatians 3:29 Galatians 3:29And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
American King James Version×, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs… heirs according to the promise.” Heirs of what? If you read other scriptures, we are heirs as the children are God. We are heirs of all things. And what’s not included in all?
God created the universe and all things are for His children. In this foot-washing that Jesus did, He was beginning a process. “Learn service the way I do it,” He said. “I am your Master, so I do it this way so you do it this way.” Yeah, we’ll wash each other’s feet at the Passover service. He wants us to be, in a very real sense, not literally, but in a real sense, washing each other’s feet every day, every day.
He says, “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is a master of all, but under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.” Now this, they would have understood this entirely too. Galatians, especially because it’s not in Judea, it’s in the Roman world where there were a lot of slaves and cruel slavery, but they understood. Any good Roman household, even middle-class, had numerous slaves. And as I’ve said before, Roman slavery was equal opportunity slavery. Anybody they conquered became slaves and the prized slaves were Greeks because you use the Greeks to teach your children. Which means that the children in many upper class and middle-class homes in the Roman world were commanded and taken care of and taught by Greek slaves. And he says here, “As you know, you know, a child is commanded by guardians and stewards.” In other words, the slaves are over the children because they taught them. They taught them how to become good Romans so that when the parents died off, they would now be owned by the children.
So we go into this world and this makes sense to them. As you know a child while still a child is no better than a saves because the slaves are in charge of them to teach them the way that they must become. “Even so we, when we were children,” he’s talking about now what he calls spiritual children. He’s not talking about them as a little children, spiritual children, we as spiritual children, “were in a bondage of the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
Now, redemption here, they’re not going to go into, he’s not doing away with the law here. He’s talking about redemption. The word redeem is very important. Redemption is a… is an important concept in the old or New Testament. The concept is that human beings have the death penalty on us because we’ve broken the law of God and that penalty requires a price and either we pay our own price or someone buys us back by paying the price for us, you redeem him. You redeem that person. Christ redeemed us from the penalty of the law. He redeemed us. He bought us from something we could not get out of ourselves.
We cannot satisfy God’s law without our own deaths. We can’t. And God says, “I will take care of this. I will show you My love, but I will not do away with My justice.” Actually, if the Protestants were right, it’d be easier for God to do away with the law. He wouldn’t have to send Jesus. Just do away with the law. Now He doesn’t have to send Jesus, right? This is an absurdity. Why would He send Him? Because He wasn’t doing away with the law. He was buying people back from what we can’t pay ourselves. Well we can, it’s called the lake of fire or in Texas we call it the lake of “fire.” Every once in a while, I still use Texas words. It’s bad when they go back and use Pennsylvania words from where I grew up because nobody understands me then. But notice then verse 6, “And because you our sons…” it’s interesting. Not long before Jesus died as the Passover, He told His disciples, “Come here, I’m not going to call you servants any more.” He says, “I’m going to call you friends.” They were probably like, “I don’t know what that means. Of course, we are Your servants, You’re the great Messiah.” “I’m going to call you friends.”
The Father says, “I’m not going to call you servants any more.” We still do service, but what is our motivation for service? We are children who are like our Father. We are children who are like our brethren. And just as Jesus Christ was a servant by nature, we become servants by nature. We do it, we serve, we love, and I tell you what, it’s not easy to learn how to do that because it is giving up. It is giving up something you would rather do for the good of somebody else. It’s not easy being a servant. But Christ showed us. It’s not easy. “Let Me as the Creator get down and wash your stinky feet.” Wow! See, we haven’t wrapped our minds around that part of the Passover service. The Creator of the universe gets down to wash their feet. “Now you do this, you do this too.”
He goes on, he says, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” “I just don’t want my heir to be Eliezer of Damascus. I want it to be a literal son.” That’s what Abraham was faced with and God says, ‘Yes, come on, learn to be servants.” And then become heirs of all that He has. This is all tied to the foot-washing, what it means to actually give your life to service to God and to other people.
One of my favorite passages about service is the men that were crying out to Jesus. He’s walking along the way and the crowd’s telling them to “Shut up. Shut up. You’re bothering Him!” And Jesus walks off the road, walks through the crowd, walks over to them and says, “What can I do for you?” He didn’t know who they were. He simply walks off the road through the crowd that’s telling them to shut up and asks them, “What can I do for you?” His whole mindset was, how can I help you? Now, you and I are limited in that we just don’t have the ability to help everybody. We can only help people that are right in front of us, and there’s some people you can’t help. They won’t let you or they’ll just abuse the fact that you’re helping them. But our attitude must be, what can I do for you? And towards each other, can I wash your feet today? That’s the attitude we’re supposed to have.
There is one other scripture I want to turn to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Well, no, Luke does not. Matthew, Mark, and Luke and John all recorded event that happened a couple of days before that Passover. And it mentions another foot-washing and we can go through and miss what the foot-washing is. We can miss what’s happening here because it is the ultimate expression of humility of foot-washing. And it is this attitude of humility that we are to carry over into the foot-washing we do.
Jesus was in the house of Simon the leper and there with him was Lazarus, who he had raised from the dead and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. We talked about Lazarus and Mary and Martha last week when we talked about healing. Now they’re there with Him and He’s having a meal. And Mary takes very, very expensive oil and pours it on His head and it runs down His head. And then John says, you know, and what’s interesting is that Matthew and Luke don’t, but John says, “And then she took the oil and washed His feet and scrubbed it with her hair, dried it with her hair.”
Judas Iscariot was highly offended. He could check it off his box you see. And some of the other apostles or disciples were too because it says “We could use that money to feed the poor. What a waste of money. We could have taken that sold it and fed dozens of poor people for the whole Days of Unleavened Bread. How wonderful what that have been?” You know and at first glance, you think, wow, yeah, man, that’s a good point. Of course, John adds, but Judas Iscariot really didn’t care about the poor. He was just the one who handled the money and he wanted control basically. “How dare you waste money because I’m in control of the money.” And he was greedy. And she washes His feet. And you think, okay, that’s interesting, but they’re tied together in our attitude.
Every Passover to me is a time to preach the gospel, man, that’s, I’ve always, that’s sort of my driving passion. Preach the gospel. Why are we here? What’s God’s purpose? Why are we in a mess and how God will get us out of it? And Christ is coming back to fix this. Because we have to talk about His first coming for that all to make sense too. So it all has to tie together. A great theme that runs through the entire Scripture. So this is gospel. This is the gospel, Christ’s first coming and it ties into His second coming what God’s doing in our lives now.
So I want to go back and finish up my reading, Matthew 26, and I want to read this account in Matthew. He doesn’t add everything, but he adds some things or he puts this into context and I want to look at it here. Verse 6 of Matthew 26, “When Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask, a very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.” Now, we also know from John, she actually poured it on His feet too.” Okay, so this is a foot-washing. “But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, ‘Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might’ve been sold for much and given to the poor.’” Now we know from the other accounts that Judas Iscariot was really upset. “But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done good for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.’” He says, “Look, this is part of what’s happening here. I am going to die here for you and this is symbolic of what’s going to happen.”
The next statement though is amazing. “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel,” okay, wherever this good news is told about how God, you know, wherever the good news is told how God created Adam and Eve in Eden. I’m sorry, mixing all together. He created Adam and Eve in Eden and Satan got to them, and they got kicked out of Eden and humanity was separated from God, and how God has a plan to bring humanity back to Him. Wherever that story is told, that gospel, wherever we talk about Abraham and Sarah, wherever we talk about the faith of the prophets and the apostles in the New Testament Church. Wherever it’s proclaimed that God brought Israel out of Egypt and gave them the Ten Commandments. Wherever it is proclaimed that Jesus Christ, the eternal Word became flesh and came to this earth and died for us and returned was resurrected and returned. Wherever that message was given. Wherever the message has given that the Holy Spirit is poured out on Pentecost so that we can literally become the children of God and heirs. Wherever the message has given that Jesus Christ is coming back, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, who’s going to reign and on this earth— the Feast of Tabernacles. Wherever this message is given, this gospel message, there’s something else we’re supposed to add to it.
Verse 25, I’m sorry, verses 13, “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Wherever the gospel is preached, we’re supposed to tell what this woman did. And it’s a couple days later that Jesus sits down after a Passover meal. He gets a basin of water and a towel, and they all wonder “What is He doing?” and washes their feet and dries their feet and says, “You have no idea what I just did, but you will, because I am the Master. You will do this because you will do what I do.”
You know in a very real sense when you and I wash each other’s feet, Jesus Christ is living in us, right? God gives us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does what? It creates Christ-like character in us. So we become Christ-like. And Christ says, “I will live my life in you. I will abide in you.” So it is this example that we are trying to follow, that God is giving His Spirit and we’re trying and we’re following this example of Jesus Christ. And when you get down and wash someone’s feet, in a very real sense, Christ is washing their feet through you. And when you change, Christ is using you to wash them someone else’s feet.
You know if you have somebody in the Church you don’t get along with, this Passover, find that person to wash their feet. Wash their feet. If you have somebody you have animosity towards wash their feet. I’ve actually told husbands and wives who can’t get along after the Passover, go home and watch each other’s feet. There’s no command you can’t do it, I mean because you’re not doing as part of Passover, but there’s no command you can’t. Go home on the Passover and watch each other’s feet. Understand the humility. If we understand that Jesus Christ is involved in our washing in each other’s feet, we see Him differently, but you can’t help but see the other person differently too.
How can you look at someone that you are washing their feet in the place of Jesus Christ and hate them? It is not possible. And believe me, I’ve taken times when I’ve known someone who had a problem with me or we had some kind of a wrong issue between us and I picked them out on the Passover and said, “Can I wash your feet?” It seems to wash away all the stuff. Any problems we have with someone tends to get washed away. Why? Because it’s not a ritual. There’s something powerful. It can be a ritual. If we just do it. There’s something powerful in the spiritual impact of foot-washing. But foot-washing is not just the once a year event. Foot-washing is an attitude. It is Christ’s attitude.
It’s interesting like we see it here in Mary before even the disciples learned, she washed His feet. As you approach the Passover this season, think about these things. Take time to read John 13. Study this, and when you do, and when you participate in the foot-washing ceremony this year, you will understand Jesus’ words when He said “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”