Feet washing –more than service and hygiene.

Posted: February 1, 2011 in The Bible

This week, I will dive into a controversial theological topic:

–       How perfect of life do you need to live in order to have a good relationship with God?

–       How good is good enough?

–       What marks the line between ok and not ok when it comes to our failures and sin and our relationship with God?

I was talking to a friend about a particular issue in which the issue of salvation and sin were at the very center:


Can a person who commits suicide go to heaven?

I know this can be a very contentious topic as it deals with the famous ‘once-saved always-saved’ and Eternal Security concepts that have split hundreds of people and churches and denominations based on their interpretation. Some say that if a person commits suicide, they committed a huge sin right before dying and therefore have lost their salvation. Others would say that since a Christian’s sins –past, present and future have been forgiven at the moment of new birth, the suicide act has been forgiven as well. Yet, someone else may argue that if a person had truly come to know God, and had tasted the love, life, hope and power of salvation, they wouldn’t even have considered suicide in the first place.

All of these arguments could be supported by Bible verses and upheld as true independently to some extent. However, there is still a big divide of opinions as to whether or not one can lose salvation.

I wanted to look at this issue from one particular passage in the Bible. The ever famous Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet.

Often we hear this passage taught with an application of humility. Jesus said: (John 13:14-15)

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you”

In the same way that Jesus, the Son of God, knelt down and washed the disciples stinky, dirty, muddy, sandy feet, we are to serve our brothers and sisters. However, did Jesus mean that we were to literally wash each other feet? Was this really an allegory to service and humility alone? Is there something else behind His words other than a service and hygienic-social habit we are to undertake? I think there may be more.

When we read the dialog, John 13, it looks like this:

Peter: “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus:  “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter: “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus: “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me”

Peter: “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus: “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” (For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.”)

Perhaps I am a slow learner and not to smart, but, there are things that I don’t quite understand here. Did Peter know what Jesus was talking about ‘after that’? Why and what does it mean to ‘have no part’ with Jesus?, What does it mean to be bathed and wash and clean here? Why was Judas not ‘clean’ but the others were?

I think –and I could be wrong, the answers to all of these questions, and a few others, come from identifying the difference in some of the words used in this passage in the original Greek –assuming God intentionally chose them and I believe they shed a great amount of light into the topic at hand: what marks the line between ok and not ok when it comes to our failures and sin and our relationship with God?

If you are not asleep yet with this long blog and would like to read what I think these answers may be, please tune for my next blog…


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