Washing Feet – Only Slaves Do It.
by Christine Sine
It’s just before the passover feast. Jesus is eating dinner in Bethany and Mary pours expensive perfume on his feet and wipes them with her hair. (John 12 & Mark 13). A few days later, at the last supper, it is Jesus down on the floor washing feet (John 13) This is something usually only done by a slave.
On Thursday we will attend the Maundy Thursday love feast and foot washing at our church. It is my favourite Holy week celebration. Yet as I read these two passages in preparation for our celebration it suddenly struck me – was Jesus washing of feet not just a proclamation of himself as servant of all but also an identification with the slaves, the condemned and unnoticed in our midst. Is it that he was saying I am just like that woman. Is it
I suspect that the memory of the woman anointing Jesus feet must have come to mind when he took up the basin and towel. Some were just as offended by his actions as they had been by the woman’s. And perhaps it was this juxtaposition that really brought home to Judas that Jesus sided with the poor and the outcast, not the rich and the powerful. Perhaps for all the disciples this was a moment of painful realization that Jesus was not going to proclaim himself as the kind of king they had been hoping for.
Have you ever reflected on this juxtaposition of Jesus having his feet washed with perfume and then a couple of days later turning round and washing his disciples’ feet? I would love to hear what you know about this or what images it creates for you.