Tuesday: The Ordinance of Humility
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It’s hard to imagine the pain that must have been going on in the heart of Jesus as

Image © Erik Stenbakken from GoodSalt.com

He – about to face the Cross, the greatest humiliation possible – saw the jealousy and infighting among His own disciples over who would be the greatest in His kingdom.

Read Luke 22:24-27 (see also Matt. 18:120:21). What crucial truth had the disciples still not learned?

Our world is so twisted and perverted by sin that we have it all backward, however ‘rational’ and ‘sensible’ backward may seem. Who in their right mind would rather be the one serving than the one served? Is not the whole point of life to get ahead, to become wealthy, and to be someone who is waited on and attended to by others rather than being the ones who serve? It’s no wonder, then, that at the Last Supper, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. No words He would have said could have conveyed the truth of what real greatness is in the eyes of God more forcefully than His washing the feet of those who should have been kissing His.

What does John 13:1-17 teach us about foot-washing as a part of the communion service?

So much amazing truth rings out through these verses. In verse 3 it says that Jesus knew that the Father had given “all things into His hands”. What happens next? Yes, Jesus, knowing full well that “He had come from God and was going to God”(NKJV), rose from the meal and started washing the disciples’ feet (vs. 5). Even without fully knowing whom Jesus really was, they must have been astonished. How could they have failed to see the lesson there?

Before claiming for ourselves all that Christ has done for us, how important it is to come to the Lord’s Supper with a sense of our own humbleness and lowliness and need of divine grace.

Whose feet might it do you some immense spiritual good to wash?

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Tuesday: The Ordinance of Humility — 21 Comments

  1. I totally agree with the lesson that foot washing is about humility and our relationship to one another. What bothers me is that we have taken Jesus words, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (Jn. 13:14-15 NKJV) as a command to wash feet. Things like that have been done all through biblical history where a simple teaching was turned into an icon or some ritual while the teaching itself was forgotten - exchanging the spiritual for the material.

    I do not feel the same is true for baptism or the Lord's Supper where a direct command is given to do that on a perpetual basis. I realize that Jesus did say, "you should do as I have done to you" but I don't think it was intended as a command to do it as some rite or ritual.

    As the lesson observes, the disciples were jockeying for position wanting to be the greatest politically. In an effort to curb that mentality Jesus did the one thing that was sure to instill in their minds what it means to be the greatest in His kingdom (Mat 18:1-4).

    Unfortunately for us, because of our modern age, we have lost a lot of its significance. At that time in history most people went around barefoot and at best wore sandals that exposed most of the foot to the elements. On top of that, the streets were often littered with the residue of animal dung which created a hygiene problem. Because of that it was customary for the host to provide a servant that washed the guest's feet. That usually was a job reserved for the socially lowest servant in the household and was considered almost a disgrace so when a Jewish host had both Jewish and gentile servants it usually was the gentile servant who got the job.

    What Jesus wanted was for the disciples to consider themselves servants of one another rather than lords over other people (Mat 20:25-26). When Jesus said that they should wash one another's feet to me He wasn't telling them to wash feet but to consider themselves servants. Yet we have taken that as an ordinance that we mostly do like a bunch of mindless robots never thinking of the significance of what Jesus was teaching. It basically has become a mechanical ritual much like many of the rituals that Jews and Catholics go through automatically with little mental engagement. I wish that we would seriously take hold of the lesson that Jesus was trying to teach and dispense with the mechanics of washing feet. But if we can't accept the lesson then at least we have the occasional reminder as an ordinance.

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  2. I agree to some extent with brother Tyler's comments, however, when one does not have a "personal relationship" with Jesus, then all spiritual activities, including attending Church on Sabbath, become a mechanical ritual. If however, we have "put on" Christ, taking part in Ordinance Services, is a very sobering experience, as we place ourselves back in Jesus' time, and realise what He was about suffer and die shortly after. Foot washing keeps one humble whether rich or poor, we are all one in Jesus, not only on Sabbaths but always. Foot washing also means "service" to each other, not only on Sabbaths, but whenever required. Do we carry one another's burdens? Are we well known in our communities as a "people of service?" If not, then we are missing the whole meaning of Ordinances. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. As Christians, are we following His example? It is my prayer, that upon His return, with power and great glory, He will see us "going about our Father's business."

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  3. I am inclined to agree that we need to focus on the meaning and the significance. It is a question of whose feet do you choose to wash and why? The answer to the question should be embodied in the significance of the ordinance itself. Otherwise we may wash each others feet yet remain unclean. The ordinance itself is appropriate for a parable but there is need to emphasize on humilty and sacrificial service and godliness- therefore let us practice with understanding.

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  4. My understanding of the significance and substance of foot washing is parrallel to Bro. Harold Gotting's spiritual discerment. The question as to whose feet to wash and why, does not need to be defined because this is not about the person but about the act of humility and how much the act meant to you.

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  5. Why we do what we do as christians should alway be kept in the forefront of our minds. Foot washing was done by Jesus to give the desciples a clear understanding on how God's kingdom operate. In our day we should go away from the communion service with a renewed vigour to serve others. If the message of serving does not impact our communities and each other we are indeed just repeating a meaningless ritual while remaining self centered and self seeking. I know a friend who opened her home to a family who were facing economic difficulties. This to me is the impact of foot washing, humility, service to others in a practical way.

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  6. We think of these ordinances as a way of humbleness, Jesus wants us to remember this always. If we think of it as mechanical and outdated, then our hearts are still full of pride. May our eyes be stayed on Christ. Peace & Love.

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  7. I am so glad for the lessons of this quather.i remember someone saying that they went to a SDA church and they are of a different race, a man came to him took him by the hand and put him next to someone of his own race. sure they still dont get the lesson Jesus was teaching. TO me the rich, the poor, the white the black, and everyone else is equal at the foot of the cross. and thank God for that.

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    • I refer to Rowe's comment. God created Godly people from the outset. He didn't create diverssity in colour but it is as a result of disobedience. God does not regard one race superior to the other but all are in a leveled playing field and are all equal.
      Should God is not a respector of person but of heart, there shouldn't be any such practices of segregation, discimination, or aleination prevailing. We see human nature still at play and it depicts that one hasn't embrace the change in God yet.

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      • Nickson, could you please share with us where in God's word it says that the diversity of colors was the result of sin?

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        • Perhaps Nickson meant that God created a diversity of language due to disobedience (Genesis 11:1-9). Of course, only Nickson can clarify his thoughts, but I find it hard to prove Biblically that a diversity of skin colour is due to disobedience.

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      • Nickson, I'd like to suggest how the different skin colors, eye colors and hair colors came about.

        If we believe the biblical account that God personally created Adam and Eve and that we are all the offspring of this one couple, then we know from the laws of heredity, that Adam and Even must have had the possibilities of all the current variations in color and appearance in their genetic make-up. Noah's family still had all the genetic material to produce the diversity we see in earth's population today.

        After the dispersion at from the Plain of Shinar, groups of people migrated to different parts of the world, and these groups were often isolated from other groups. The individuals in these groups would have had less than a full set of all the genes necessary for diversity. So only certain characteristics were expressed. These characteristics were passed on in each particular group, thus resulting in populations groups with distinct characteristics.

        Additionally, it seems likely that environment had an effect. People with very light skin survived better in northern climates, having less bone disease and cancer, etc. due to their ability to synthesize sufficient quantities of Vitamin D. In hot climates, people with darker skin tones did much better, because their skin was not as easily damaged by the sun. This is just one little example of how the environment could have played a part.

        The bottom line is that from a creation science point of view, greater diversity of appearance is an indicator of the loss of some genetic material in each particular group. That's why very light-skinned people only get light-skinned children and dark-skinned people only get dark-skinned children. When people from very different genetic backgrounds marry, the children will again have a richer genetic make-up, and their children will demonstrate a lot of diversity in a single family.

        The diversity in appearance among humans can be compared to the diversity of colors in flowers. Surely we wouldn't want to say that all the beautiful colors are the result of sin! Instead, I believe that they are an indicator of God's love of diversity. Just like no particular flower is "better" than another, so neither is any particular type of appearance "better" than another.

        Allowing Jesus to reign in our hearts makes us all beautiful on the inside, and some of that beauty is bound to show through to the outside. :)

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  8. Hi all,

    I need your help on the following questions. Why did Jesus undergo baptism? Why foot washing and not hand or head washing?

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    • Hi Paul, look at the different methods of baptisms being conducted within the christiandom despite the example Jesus set for baptism. I don't know and wouldn't want to contemplate what would be like if He didn't but its ideal that He led by example.
      It is not that He needed baptism but laid down the perfect way to do by acting out at river Jordan.

      With regard to foot washing, others have commented and elaborated more in detail the importance of foot washing ordinance. There are two things standing out for me. One, its a show of humility or humbleness. Put the other person ahead of oneself, self denial, respect for the other and secondly, service to others. Jesus came not to be served but to serve.

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    • The thief on the cross was not blessed with the opportunity to be baptised, nevertheless he will be in the kingdom, and yet Jesus said that unless one is born of the water and of the spirit He cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus knew that there would be those who would not have the opportunity to be baptised but would if they could,such as the thief on the cross thus His baptism would suffice for them.
      Footwashing was one of the most meanial task in Jesus' day and therefore it was the ideal means of demonstrating what it means to humbly serve others. No other method would convey the the message to the desciples with such clarity and effectiveness as footwashing.

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  9. Why foot washing and not hand or head washing?

    During the time of Jesus, foot washing is the work of the lowest slave. The Bible stories give us a picture of how much dirtier their feet were than today because they don’t have the comfort of transportation, cemented roads and even shoes. If they have shoes these are often sandals. It could be that they walk on dusty roads, mud and animals including human dungs.

    Foot washing therefore teaches us to be selfless. Unless we become slave we cannot serve others according to Christ’s standards.

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  10. When I entered the SDA church, I had never even heard of this ordinance in practice. None of the other churches I had attended growing up ever did footwashing. I like the way that it was originally explained to me. It is a time when we can put aside any differences and forgive. If there has been a wrong between me and another, this is a time that we can come together and pray and ask for each other's forgiveness. By submitting ourselves and washing the others feet we are reminded that neither is above the other. That we are all broken sinners in need of the same Savior. That we are to serve one another in love. And that if Jesus can forgive us, then we can surely forgive each other. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Regardless of our positions in life (work, family, church), all have the same Master...Jesus. Jesus' example in footwashing shows us the very nature of love. True love is shown when we are willing to humble ourselves, to submit, to suffer, to forsake ourselves in order to meet the needs of someone else. That was the example of Jesus life and to me that is what I am reminded of during footwashing.

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