Footwashing is Worse Than I Thought

20131109-083051.jpgFootwashing–in particular Jesus washing his disciples’ feet–is a centering symbol for my Deaconess community. I thought I understood the importance of this humble act of service that Jesus modeled but it is more important than I realized because it’s worse than I thought it was.

One of my favorite Biblical scholars is Kenneth E. Bailey. I even did one of my podcasts for Life & Liberty based on some Bailey wisdom. He is well-acquainted with Middle Eastern culture and brings powerful insights to bear on the Bible.

I was asked to speak with a neighboring women’s group about Deaconess ministry. I chose to lead them in a Bible study of John 13–the passage where Jesus washes the disciples’ feet.

I could’ve just gone with what I know about it, but since I’ve discovered Bailey I wondered what new insights he would bring.

My husband found me this 16-minute video of Bailey teaching on this passage. I learned a few things from the video that painted footwashing as even more profound than I knew. Please take the time to watch and see what I mean:

A highlight for me was the insight that the radical nature of the act would form a bond between Jesus and his disciples if they chose to accept the act. The idea of the intimacy forged through Jesus’ self-giving really resonates with me.

And of course, Jesus was willing to go even further–and do something even worse–for the sake of not just those few disciples but to reconcile the whole world to himself.

Thanks be to God for the lengths to which he goes for us!

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