Theology with unwashed feet is a major challenge in the church. The problem of the church today is the problem of Peter in us, protesting and disallowing Jesus to wash our feet, hence Jesus said, if I do not wash you, you have no share with me (Jn 13:8). The church is in crisis today because many are trying to wash the feet of others when they themselves are protesting and refusing to allow Jesus to wash their feet. Unwashed feet can give you titles and positions in the church and even ‘close proximity to the Saviour’ but ‘without possessing salvation.’ Today is the Maundy Thursday and like other Christian celebrations, the church not only remember but renew its identity and mission in the world. On Holy/Maundy Thursday, Jesus had given instructions to the disciples on how to prepare for the holy meal in the upper room, which will be his last supper, the Lord’s Supper. Today we unite ourselves with Jesus in the upper room of our hearts, to share in his body and blood and also to experience not only the ritual of washing the feet, but a renewal of our hearts. John’s alone of the gospel has the foot washing to set example for us of service to others. Alyce McKenzie’s contribution is very helpful for us in this reflection. She explained that, a deeper reason we don’t want Jesus handling our feet is because to allow Jesus to touch our feet is to allow him to touch our will. According to her ‘we all have a mind; we all have emotions; and we all have a will—our decision making power. Our feet are how we put our decisions in motion and get places, do things. We can think about doing something. To allow Jesus to cleanse our feet is to remove all that prevents us from using our feet to follow him. To scrub away our insecurities, to wash away our weariness, to buff off our bitterness.’ The reflection is that we cannot effectively fellowship with the Lord as Christians with unwashed feet, that is, without humble, honest and confession of sin.

The disciples were in power race, jealous of one another, competing for the best place (Matt 18:1-5). Their view of the kingdom was influenced by carnal, political thinking. They were in competition and their mind was not on conversion of people but redefining for themselves a new way of life (Mk 9:34). The spirit of competition is the dominant spirit of in every age. The spirit of competition and redefinition of life incites men and women to strive to be better, and superior than their fellows, not to follow or grow up into the likeness of Jesus, is the dominant spirit of this world (Mk 9:34-35). Competition or redefining God is not a valid way to work for and with Him. We need conversion from pride to humility, from worldly ambition to spiritual ambition, from godlessness to godliness. Merrill Tenney in his book ‘John: The Gospel of Belief,’ provides a helpful contribution on the disciples competing spirit. According to him, ‘they were ready to fight for a throne, but not for a towel.’ The love that Jesus showed in washing the disciples’ feet is the love God showed for us in our creation and salvation. God left His throne to come to our low level, kneeling to wash our feet, peradventure this action influenced Peter’s response to Jesus stooping at his feet.

Jesus came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God, God’s way of being. Peter’s protest and unwillingness to allow Jesus to wash his feet explicate our denial, betrayal, and slowness to comprehend the Truth and God’s Kingdom. Unless we allow Jesus to wash our feet, we cannot wash the feet of others. Unwashed feet is comparable to a Christian trying to walk with the Lord, study the Word, pray, or serve Him with known sin in the life, like the sin of pride and unbelief. Like Peter, are we confronted with a Jesus who does not serve our sinful expectations and fulfil our hopes? Maundy Thursday invites us to allow the Word to expose the dirt and wash you anew today. The Passover foot washing becomes a time of personal and corporate renewal, our continual need to be washed from the sinful influences of the world. We betray God’s love when we betray God’s way of being, His order and command, by competing, gossiping, and fighting among ourselves. We betray God’s love when we do away with God’s Word for the Barabbas and things of this world (Luke 3:18). Lent challenges us not to trade our faith and salvation for the chief priests, for money/human institutions. The Kingdom of God is not about flesh and meat. Christian discipleship is beyond being nice to others and caring for them. Christian discipleship begins by allowing Jesus to serve us and wash our feet. We cannot pray or grow in holiness without Jesus empowering and ‘forming holiness in us; we cannot lead others to faith without the working of His spirit; we cannot serve others without the service He offers to us first.’ Lent invites us to repent, to kneel, to humble ourselves and sit at the feet of Jesus for direction/inspiration. Lent calls us to repent from betraying Jesus again by receiving as our Lord and Saviour and following Him according to His Word. Today like 2000 years ago and beyond the 1998 Lambeth Conference where over 700 bishops washed each other’s feet, each lavishing care and receive care in a moment of intimate fellowship, Jesus still kneels waiting for us with a basin of water and a towel, ready to bless us as we partake in his flesh and blood.

Let us prayerfully sing together

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing pow’r?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
  Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white!
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for His presence bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb.