the one about feet...
April 18, 2019, 7:00 PM

Sermon from Thursday, May 18 - Maundy Thursday

Text: John 13:1-17, 31-35

Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, I want to be honest. I’m partially in agreement with Peter this evening. I don’t like people touching my feet – especially just my feet. After years of being an athlete, and recently trying to get back to being an athlete, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my feet. I don’t even like touching or looking at my feet.

In fact, I think I can be pretty comfortable (kinda) with people seeing my body, but my feet? Not so much. Years of running, jumping, sliding, sportsing, and more has caused havoc to my feet. Nails don’t look good, they ache all the time, my ankle has touched the ground more often than an ankle ever should. My feet hurt right now.

I don’t want people to touch them. I find my feet embarrassing. They are (at times) cracked, sensitive, and not to mention they can produce an odor that can stop an army in its tracks. You really don’t want to be down-wind from my feet.

I don’t know if that is what Peter is thinking about as Jesus takes off his outer robe as he wraps a towel around his waist and kneels at a basin of water. I don’t know if Peter too is ashamed of his own feet as Jesus reaches out to take each foot in his hand as he washes and dries the disciples’ feet.

Perhaps Peter is thinking about all the places his feet have taken him. The paths he’s walked. The situations they’ve journeyed into. More often than not – even when we have been in wonderful places where our feet have taken us – we remember the not so great places. The unpleasant times.

Maybe Peter isn’t thinking about the mountain his feet have walked up right before he was witness to Jesus’ transfiguration. Maybe the many towns and villages he and his friends have been to that have been witness to Jesus’ signs and miracles of healing don’t come immediately to his mind. Perhaps, the only things Peter can think of are those times where his ‘feet’ got him in trouble.

The numerous times he put his ‘foot in his mouth’ as he attempted to stop Jesus’ ministry and love. Perhaps he’s thinking about those moments before he met Jesus where he got into trouble, wandered away from where God intended him to be?

There’s a good chance if I ask you to tell me a story about your feet you’ll tell me a story of pain or hurt. I do it too. If someone asks me about my feet, I usually don’t tell them about me running the fastest mile I’ve ever run while in high school – 4:31.9 to help my track team when a state championship. I don’t tell them about the numerous other accolades I’ve achieved with my feet whether it be in running, jumping, or lifting. No, if you ask me to tell a story about my feet, I’ll probably tell you about a time that I hurt my feet. That time while training in college where I was running down College Street and rolled my ankle – where it touched the ground and hurt so bad that I got an endorphin high as I literally crawled from the street to the athletic trainer’s office.

Or, the numerous – the many – the countless times I’ve stubbed my toe on a piece of furniture and those little digits bled like crazy.

Maybe you’ll hear a story about how my feet got me in trouble because I was careless and stepped on that one floorboard in the house that woke everyone up as I tried to sneak out one night.

Maybe it’s the time that my feet didn’t move as I saw a friend get teased and I didn’t go to stop it. Or the time when they didn’t move when a friend decided to steal from a Wal-Mart in Columbia. Or the time they walked me away from a person in need as I saw them on the road because I was just ‘too busy’ to do anything that day.

I’m sure each of you have those stories as well.

There’s something about feet.

Yet, our Lord reaches out to touch those feet. To touch our feet. To wash them. To hold them. To show us what it means to serve and love.

He looks past, looks beyond, the cracks of sin that those feet have been a part of. He looks past the triumphs they’ve achieved through blood and sweat. He washes over the dirt and grime (both literally and figuratively) that they’ve accumulated in a lifetime of usage. Jesus doesn’t hold up his nose at the smell that comes from them.

Jesus touches the part of us that many – myself included – don’t want others to see.

Peter objects, and I assume the others do too. Peter is typically the voice given to the disciples. If he’s objecting, there is a good change the others are as well.

But, there’s more to not wanting others to touch our feet – not wanting Jesus to kneel down and take those broken, cracked, and dirty heels in his hands.

It’s demeaning to him. He’s better than that right? Why on earth would he want to grab on to these smelly things? Why take notice of something that most of the time WE don’t even notice unless they hurt or we they ‘get in the way’ as we stub them on furniture, wall corners, and more?

Jesus places himself in a position that is beneath him (at least to the outside world looking in). He stoops down to do something that the disciples expected nobodies to do. The lowest of the low of servants and slaves were given the task to bathe the aching and dirty feet of those who came into homes and establishments.

Not teachers. Not thinkers. Definitely not the Son of God.

That was a job reserved for prisoners, sinners, the less fortunate, those ‘beneath’ the one being bathed.

Yet, Jesus stoops down to take Peter’s and the disciples’ feet in his hands. He washes them. He dries them. He sends them on in love and service.

Jesus knows that our feet lead us to where we are going. They are the parts of our bodies – like our hands as well – that get overlooked. We forget about them. We only acknowledge them when they don’t or can’t do the things we want them to do. Yet, Jesus knows how vitally important our feet are. One of my favorite quotes about feet is from Frederick Douglass. Where the abolitionist once said that he prayed for freedom for twenty years, and it didn’t do any good until he started praying with his feet.

Our feet move us – literally, figuratively, and spiritually. Our feet take us on this path that God has lain before us. Our feet trudge, run, walk, leap, and slide through the grime, the dirt, the muck, and the more in this life we have been gifted. Our feet are washed as a sign that they take us where God intends for us to go, and our feet (and its paths) don’t keep us from experiencing, knowing, and living out God’s love for us and all of creation.

Jesus’ washes the disciples’ feet; Jesus reaches out to our feet to remind us of how important they are. They lead us through this life of faith. They carry us through service and love. Our feet – our broken, battered, cracked, smelly feet, are held by God. Held and loved. Washed and dried. So that we continue to live into this life of faith and love. Walking with Jesus as we find ourselves serving others because of the love that God has poured into our life. Because of the gift of new life that has been given to us from Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Jesus washes, touches, and reaches out to our feet so that we might live into the love that we are sent into.

But, it isn’t the only thing that Jesus does here. Jesus also shows us what kind of leader we are to be in the world. A leader who ventures forth in love and service to others. One that does not hold themselves above those around them. One that isn’t averse to stoop down. One that lives into a love so strong and full that nothing will keep us from sharing God’s love – not even feet.

Jesus models for us not only what ‘leaders’ should do, but how we all should be in this kingdom of God. Willing and able to stoop down, to ‘lower’ ourselves in the eyes of the world so that others would be cared for and loved. Being more concerned about the person before us, than about ourselves – our clothes, our status, our lives.

So, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’ve got some stools. I’ve got a bowl. We’re going to wash one another’s feet.

You don’t have to come up. I promise. But, if you’re willing to move past the uncomfortable, come up and wash some feet of the people around you. Your friends, your family. Those you don’t know very well. Wash and be washed.

Know that God is reaching out to you. Your feet do indeed walk on holy ground wherever you go because God is with you, Jesus is walking along beside you, the Spirit is leading you.

Amen. Come and be washed. Amen.

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