Skip to content
Jun 13 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

June 13, 2021



Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him John 13:1-11 (Please read the entire text)

Intro: Jesus is doing something rather dramatic in this passage

Look at the verbs! He busies himself with the menial task of a slave
– Jesus is teaching his disciple through a living parable
• he’s not telling a story this time – not explaining a truth
• he is acting out a lesson
– in the Synoptic gospels, Jesus explains the difference of how hierarchy is ordered in his kingdom
You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mk. 10:44-45)
• so here, Jesus shows them what that means
◦ you can be sure, Peter wasn’t only disciple that felt the impact of this lesson
• they would never forget the night Jesus washed their feet

In our Reflexion community we have a specific interest

Our shared spiritual journey
– ongoing progress in living more God-filled lives
• so let’s suppose you’re with us today,
◦ because you want to deepen or enhance your experience of God
◦ you want a greater awareness of him, greater sensitivity to his touch and to the sound of his voice
• so here you are, and I’m talking to you today about your feet!
◦ how disappointing! How ordinary and unspiritual!
– but if we cannot discern how we live to God through our feet,
• then it’s possible that we present our bodies to God in worship is just talk
Nicole Roccas, “In Orthodox Christianity . . . [we] sometimes burn incense, or use prayer ropes, or set certain corners of our homes apart for prayer. These rituals are not meant to be rote or mindless, but to nourish reverence and to remind us that we are incarnational beings—our bodies must learn to pray as well as our minds.”
• so the body part we’ll look for in scripture today is the feet

Being grounded begins with the feet

Pat Ogden, “The lower extremities of the body—feet, calves, thighs, and pelvis—provide our base of support and connection to the earth. As a somatic resource, grounding is the physical process of being aware of our legs and feet and their connection to the ground, and to directing our energy downward into the earth to sense the support of gravity. . . . To ground ourselves, we need to relax the tension in our bodies so we can let our bodies yield into the support of the ground beneath our feet, yet the muscles should maintain tonicity.”
– David was very much aware of his need to be grounded
He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights (Ps. 18:33)
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip
(Ps. 18:36)
• feet that slip or avoid slipping occurs a lot in Job and the Psalms
◦ slipping destabilizes people, makes them vulnerable (Ps. 38:6; 94:18)
◦ so firm grounding would be feet set on a rock (Ps. 40:2) or level ground (26:12)
◦ feet can also be steadied by God (Ps. 94:18; 121:3)
• enemies can set a trap for David’s feet (Ps. 140:4)
◦ God plucked his feet from one of those nets (Ps. 25:15)
◦ then enemy’s foot is caught in their own net (Ps. 9:15)
◦ in the end, God put enemy under David’s feet (Ps. 18:38)
• David rejoices when feet stand w/in Jerusalem’s gates (Ps. 122:1-2)
– our bodies need grounding and support
• Barb takes courses to stay on top of advances in Physical Therapy
◦ a current course is entitled, “When the Feet Hit the Ground, Everything Changes”
◦ it’s about the biomechanics of the foot and ankle when standing, walking, or running
• similar course was entitled, “Chain Reaction”
◦ when the sole of the foot comes in contact w the floor, it sets off a chain reaction
◦ from the ankle to the knee, from the knee to the hip, from the hip to the pelvis,
• all the way up to the brain, which reads all this information,
◦ and makes adjustments to maintain balance and stability
Jon Kabat-Zinn–when backpacking with his family in the Teton wilderness, “With each step, the foot has to come down somewhere. Climbing or descending over boulder fields, steep inclines, on and off trails, our feet make split-second decisions about where and how to come down, what angle, how much pressure, heel or toe, rotated or straight. The kids don’t ever ask: “Daddy, where to I put my feet? . . .” They just do it, and I’ve noticed that they find a way . . . .”

Feet have a wide range of meanings in scripture

LORD has blessed you according to my foot (Gen. 30:30)
– that is, how he managed his uncle’s flocks
God keeps the feet of His godly ones (1 Sam. 2:9)
– in other words, he guards their steps
To have no resting place for the sole of the foot (De. 28:65)
– means endless wandering, to be homeless
a place forgotten by the foot (Job 28:4)
– is a lost or abandoned trail
stamping the feet (Eze. 6:11) can indicate intense frustration or anger
– the person who cuts off his own feet (Pr. 26:6) self-destructs
– if others try to trip up my feet (Ps. 104:4), they are trying to ruin me or catch me in their net
– the temple was no more than God’s footstool, the place of My feet (Is. 60:13)
– feet that run to do evil belong to people who do not exercise any impulse control (Pr. 1:16)
the wise son does not walk with them, but keeps his foot from their path (Pr. 1:15)
– similarly, God told Jeremiah that his people had not kept their feet in check (Jer. 14:10)
David, however, restrained his feet from every evil way (Ps. 119:101, NASB)
it helped that he turned [his] feet to God’s testimonies (Ps. 119:59)
– Jesus’ disciples were to shake the dust off their feet when leaving a town that rejected them (Mt. 10:14)
this may have been a way of affirming that they had not come there to take anything from anyone

The knees
to be born on someone’s knees refers to the first person to hold and care for the infant (Gen. 50:23; Job 2:7)
upon the knees to look upon is to cuddle a small child (Is. 66:12)
– knees could be weak or strong (Job 4:4; Ps. 109:24)
– knees knocking refers to panic or terror (Nah. 2:10)
– kneeling in prayer was a way to be at God’s feet in spirit (1 Ki. 18:42; 2 Chr. 6:13; Ep. 3:14)

have not slipped means to limp or be unsteady (2 Sa. 22:37)

In most instances the heel is used in reference to someone being chased (Jdg. 5:15; Job 18:14; Hab. 3:5)
– in other instances it refers to a person attacking someone (Ps. 41:9)

There are also references to the sole of the foot
– the lowest part of the body, opposite the crown of the head (Job 2:7)
– the body part that has direct contact with the earth (De. 11:24)

All these reference have to do with what we experience through our feet
– what our feet feel — what our feet do — what our feet express
– referring to the feat in this way brings attention to physical ways we experience life in this world

Sometimes the foot can represent the person to whom it belongs
Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house,
lest he have his fill of you and hate you
(Pr. 25:17)
– or it can refer to a person’s whereabouts
Go, make yet more sure. Know and see the place where his foot is, and who has seen him there (1 Sam. 23:22)
• the direction a person’s foot takes indicates
◦ behavior that is faithful (Job 23:11) or deceitful (Job 31:5)
◦ changing the foot’s direction changes behavior (Isa. 58:13)
When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies (Ps. 119:59)
I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word (Ps. 119:101)
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path (Ps. 119:105)
◦ but feet that walk in darkness stumble (Jer. 13:16)
• wisdom can hold the foot back from the path of evil (Pr. 1:15)
◦ wisdom can also provide secure footing and protection (Pr. 3:23, 26)
• like the hand or the eye, the foot can cause us to sin (Mk. 9:45)
– moving from the moral significance of feet to the more practical:
putting on sandals can be preparation to move out (Ex. 12:2; Ep. 6:15)
◦ the same as being told to get on your feet (Acts 26:13)
• encounter with the sacred requires removing sandals (Ex. 3:5; Jos. 5:15)
◦ meditate on that! Why must we approach God barefoot?

Many times Jesus healed lame or crippled feet
– he sent this message to John the Baptist as proof that he was the Messiah (Mt. 11:5)
• invalids were placed at Jesus’ feet to be healed (Mt. 15:30)
• Peter and John were later used to heal a beggar’s feet and ankles (Acts 3:7)
– the foot can be a measurement (Acts 7:5)
• a step can refer to progress (Pr. 4:12)
◦ or one stage of a journey (Isa. 41:2) or a plan of action (Pr. 14:15)
◦ steps can also refer to keeping pace (Gal. 2:14, in step with the truth)
• a step down could signify humiliation (Eze.26:16)
– steps could be footprints, where someone had walked (Job 29:6)
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Pe. 2:21)

Many times people threw themselves at feet of another person
– this happened frequently with Jesus
• especially poignant are the instances of two women:
◦ every time Mary, the sister of Lazarus, appears in the gospels, she is at Jesus’ feet (Lk. 10:39; Jn. 11:2, 32; 12:3)
◦ then there was woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears (Lk. 7:38)
Thomas Staubli and Silvia Shroer, “With her actions of washing and drying, anointing and kissing Jesus’ feet the woman sets up a sign. She touches the human being and at the same time she touches the feet of God, who gives protection and mercy.”
– David prayed that the foot of arrogance would not step on him (Ps. 36:11)
Bruce Malina, Since ‘hands-feet’ refer to activity and power, to be set ‘under the feet of’ someone means to be subject to that person, to be under that one’s control . . . . Similarly, to put one’s foot on the neck of a person is to indicate total defeat . . . . The neck both holds up a person’s honor which is associated with the head-face (Isa 3:16), and is the channel of life because the breath-soul passes through it.”
• to be trampled by enemy was a severe humiliation (Isa. 26:5-6)
Staubli and Schroer, “The foot, much like the hand, had a symbolic power of its own in Israel: it was associated with subjugation, domination, and the seizure of others’ property. To ‘tread someone or something under foot’ was regarded even then as an act of the greatest humiliation. . . . Thus YHWH promises King David of Israel:
‘Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool’ (Ps 110:1).”
• Israel’s hope was to see God tread down their foes (Ps. 108:13)
◦ this, in fact, is God’s ultimate victory, first promised in Genesis
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel (Ge. 3:15)
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Ro. 16:20)
And [God] put all things under [Jesus] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church (Ep. 1:22; cf. 1 Cor. 15:25-27)

Conclusion: In 1 Corinthians Paul compares the Christian community to a body

We are all body parts – we belong to Jesus and to each other
– Paul tells us, the head cannot say to feet I have no need of you (12:21)
• the head may be top part of the body and the feet the lowest part
◦ but they need each other
• one person may be like the eyes, another like the ears, another like the mouth
but we all have to be the feet
◦ that’s the point Jesus made when he washed his disciples’ feet

Go barefoot when you can – and pay attention
Your feet have something to say to you
about the earth on which you are walking
about its Creator – about others who share it – & about yourself EXERCISE


I have left out several other aspects of legs and feet
– in particular, I have not mentioned walking
• walking with God is not a mere metaphor
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Ge. 3:8)
Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him (Ge. 5:24)

The idea of walking can be expanded so that it refers to the course of one’s life
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him (Col. 2:6)
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth, but if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn. 1:6-7)
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love . . . (Ep. 4:1-3)
Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us . . . (Ep. 5:1)

Pat Ogden, “The way we walk speaks volumes about who we are and how we feel. Whether we shuffle, stride, saunter, glide, traipse, or trudge with heavy footsteps, we are telling the world how we feel today, how we feel about ourselves and what we expect from others. We may plod along, dragging our feet behind us as if we have very little energy, giving the impression that we are tired or depressed. We may walk with a hurried, rushed gait, leaning forward, eyes focused straight ahead, giving the impression that we are preoccupied, busy, harried, and have not time to spare. If we feel afraid to be seen, we may walk cautiously and hesitantly; if we feel uncertain, we may slouch and shuffle with our eyes cast downward. We may stomp our feet with every step if we feel angry or bounce with a spring in our step if we feel joyful. Our gait changes with our mood, but our characteristic style of walking, like all our physical habits, is formed over time from a variety of influences.”
“Our gait changes depending on how we feel, the environment, and who we are with. If we are with someone with whom e feel good and who treats us well, our gait may become more confident, arms swinging, posture more aligned, and head lifted.”

I used to take the most wonderful walks with a friend of mine
We spent our whole time talking about Jesus, scripture, and God’s work in our lives

So here’s the exercise I am suggesting for you:

Imagine that you are taking a walk with Jesus
He’s not scolding you, not giving you all kinds of instructions with each step
The two of you are simply enjoying each other’s company

Where are you?

What do you notice about your pace?
Fast, slow, unhurried

What do you notice about your stride?
Big steps? Small steps?
Is there a rhythm you both fall into

What is different about the way you walk when you’re with him?
How does it feel in your body?
How does it feel emotionally?

Does it feel different than walking by yourself?

Does it feel different than walking with someone else?
If so, what is the difference?

How important is it to you that you reach a destination?

What do you notice happening in regard to your relationship with Jesus?

Now, at your first opportunity, take a literal walk with Jesus
Relax, breathe, take it easy
Be mindful
Notice whatever Jesus points out

Leave a comment