“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).
The disciples were twelve men beloved of God—precious in His eyes, full of love for His Son, pure of heart, in full communion with Jesus. Yet they had dirt on their feet!
Jesus, in essence, was saying to these men, “Your hearts and hands are clean, but your feet are not. They have become dirty in your daily walk with Me. You do not need your whole body to be washed—only your feet.” The dirt Jesus mentions here has nothing to do with natural dirt. It is about sin—our faults and failures, our giving in to temptations.
No matter how dusty and dirty the roads were in ancient Jerusalem, no age has ever been as filthy as ours. I wonder how many of you reading this message right now have some dirt clinging to you. Perhaps this past week you fell into a temptation or failed God in some way. It is not that you have turned your back on the Lord. On the contrary, you love the Savior more passionately than ever, but you fell and now you are grieving—because your feet are dirty.
Scripture tells us: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). The Greek word for trespass here means “a fall, a sin.” We are to restore every Christian who falls into sin if there is a repentant heart.
Foot washing, in its deepest meaning, has to do with our attitude about the dirt we see on our brother or sister. So I ask you: What do you do when you are face to face with someone who has fallen into a sin or transgression?
We are to take up the towel of God’s mercy and go to that hurting one. In the special love of Jesus we are not to judge him, expose him, lecture or find fault. Instead we are to commit to being his friend. We are to help him come to salvation by sharing the correcting, healing, washing, comforting Word of God.