Ford Madox Brown's depiction of Jesus washing Peter's feet is a favorite. According to John 13, Peter did not think much of the idea at first and protested. Jesus told him he would understand later. When was that "later" time? Did it occur to him when he denied even knowing Jesus? Did he think of it as he saw Christ dying on the cross? What about on the day after? On the day of Resurrection and the first time the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples? The day on the beach when he was personally confronted by Jesus and told to follow him and feed his sheep? Perhaps, all those times. It was something he could not shake. It was a lesson in humility and service he would not forget and he needed to not forget as he "shepherded the flock" of God. In his first letter, the impact of that foot washing in his life is echoed over and over. "Live as servants of God, i.e.,washing other people's feet, in 3:16. In his teaching to the elders - leaders - of the church, he wrote, "I exhort you to tend the flock of God... not under compulsion but willingly....not for sordid gain but eagerly... do not lord it over the flock but be examples..."(1 Pet. 5).
I wanted to attend the foot washing service that the ministry to the homeless in downtown Jacksonville, The Church Without Walls, was doing today. It was over the noon hour and our church was participating. I was saying to my wife how much I wanted to go. But, we have meals on wheels to deliver today, she said. Well, I know I said (pause for effect) and I know one of us has to be here to do it. This is your foot washing service, she reminded me, sweetly. And of course, she was right and how appropriate to be able to do it on the day we remember our Lord's humble service to others.