Christ was washing the feet of the disciples which is the culmination of the foot-washing practice. Eventually, washing the feet was a common practice as a hospitality back then because travelers feet were getting soiled by the dirt of the rough roads.
This practice became a ritual for certain Christians, the word “Maundy” (“mandatum” found In John 13:34), where English “mandate” came from, the foot-washing became a mandate as a religious observance for certain times and certain Christian groups.
Let’s examine the foot-washing in the Scriptures:
John 13:5 NASB reads, “Then He [Jesus] poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” After the Lord’s Supper, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. At this point, we may see Jesus’ action as a hospitality.
Let’s expand and read more in this same chapter:
John 13:8-11 NASB reads, “Peter said to Him [Jesus], ‘Never shall You [Jesus] wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.’ Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean.'” Now we can see the foot-washing is “cleansing.”
How does this “cleansing” become more relevant?
I Corinthians 6:11 NASB reads, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Now “washing” in general led to “sanctification.”
Let’s explore it more:
Luke 7:44-46 NASB says, “Turning toward the woman, He [Jesus] said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.'” That woman actually understood spiritually Jesus’ death and resurrection by demonstrating her action on Jesus’ feet. At this point, her foot washing pointed toward Jesus’ death which was foretold by her preparation on Jesus’ feet.
Finally, we can see more picture of the foot-washing:
We come back to the same chapter 13 here. John 13:16 NASB says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.” Foremost is Christ was obedient to His Father Who sent Him, which is, His mission of His death and resurrection.
And Philippians 2:3-8 NASB says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
We can see the foot-washing is indicating Jesus’ death (foretold) and ultimately His resurrection. – T