How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
the good news of peace and salvation,
the news that the God of Israel reigns!
– Isaiah 52.7 (NLT)
I’m in the kitchen a lot. It seems that I’m always cooking or cleaning something in that space. I think when my kids grow up, they will have an image of Mom standing in front of the sink or the stove. The kitchen has become one of my main sources of service to my family.
My kitchen floor is made up of rugged blue stones that hide any evidence of dirt or stains. I love to kick off my shoes and stand on the cool floor with my bare feet. I’ve probably worn a path from the fridge to the trashcan to the sink to the stove, since I walk that circuit often.
I’ve noticed, however, that my feet collect dirt during my hours of pacing the short length of my kitchen. My entire body is clean and fresh, but my feet look like they haven’t been washed in days. I don’t mind, though, because that is the price I pay to care for my family. Before I leave my kitchen duties, I stick my feet in the sink to clean them. Otherwise, I’d track dirty foot prints throughout the rest of my house.
I pondered this as I read about Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. I was struck when He told them that they (except for Judas who betrayed Jesus) were all clean besides their feet: “Jesus replied, ‘A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you’” (John 13.10 NLT). I’m sure the disciples did a lot of walking while spreading the Gospel, and their feet were probably filthy from their journeys with Jesus.
I then thought about my journey. God has chosen to expose me to situations, actions and words that were disturbing to my spirit. I had trouble at first trying to digest the ugliness of what I saw and heard. I wanted to point my finger at all the ungodliness around me; but if I did, I would never be able to reach others with the Good News of Jesus Christ — it is hard to be open to someone who is attacking you.
Instead of attacking, I had to put on the Shoes of Peace (Eph 6.15 NLT). I looked past the sin into the hearts of people who needed a savior. We all have sin, but it is difficult to trek through the muddy waters of another person’s mistakes, ignorance and deception. I spoke of God’s grace and love, but I began to feel dirty and tainted. I desperately needed Jesus to wash my feet before they started making tracks throughout the rest of my life.
Jesus and His disciples hung around “disreputable sinners” (Mark 2.15 NLT). I believe that Jesus – being the Son of God and a sinless man – saw the ugliness of sin all around Him. But instead of calling it out, He chose to show grace. When the Pharisees saw Jesus eating with His followers, they asked, “Why does he eat with such scum?” (Mark 2.16 NLT).
Jesus answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2.17 NLT).
I’m reminded that Jesus left His flawless glory to come to earth and get His feet dirty so He could offer us the hope of salvation. He exposed Himself to “sick people” – even taking our sins on Himself – and sacrificed His life so we could be blameless in God’s sight: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5.21 NASB).
I’ve noticed that as a disciple of Jesus Christ, my feet will get dirty. God will send me into the trenches; and although my heart stays pure and right, my feet will become filthy and worn. But I can’t let a little dirt stop me from spreading the Gospel. If I fear getting my feet dirty, I will never be God’s productive co-worker with Christ. I want to follow Jesus’ example — He didn’t judge others: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3.17 NASB).
I must prepare myself feet for the dirt with the understanding that I can keep my heart and mind clean. I can’t worry about the opinions of those who care more about staying sanitized than about reaching the lost. I know that Jesus will always wash my feet when they get dirty, and I trust that He will use my feet to share the Good News!
“So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood. So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore. For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come” (Hebrews 13.12-14 NLT).