Why can't we wash each other's feet?
I decided to read John 13:1-20 today, since it's Maundy Thursday. My understanding is that this day is so named because of Jesus' mandate ("mandatum" in Latin, which was somehow shortened to "maundy") to wash each other's feet in John 13. Jesus does also give the command that his disciples love each other in John 13.
It's the eve of the crucifixion. Jesus gathers with his disciples to share what he knows is one last meal with them. And they still don't get it. He's already told them--more than once--what's going to happen. What will it take for them to understand?
So he does something ridiculous. Maybe up to this point we could argue that all his talk of serving and love has been that--just talk (I don't think I'd actually argue that, but for the sake of this post, we could think about saying that...)...well, and some pretty impressive miracles, too, actually! To drive his points home that the disciples have to (1) be part of him and the Father and (2) love in a different kind of way than mere "earthly love," Jesus gets up and does one of the ickiest servant's jobs. In fact, even though we in our modern American culture have clean feet, for the most part, albeit perhaps slightly sweaty (I speak for myself, now!), we just don't wash each other's feet! We don't do it! If washing each other's feet is Jesus' real command, then we are not on board!
Nope. Not gonna happen, Jesus. My shoes are staying on and my feet are staying put. Who are we? Are we Peter--"no way, Jesus--you can't serve me by washing my feet!"? No, we're someone else--someone who wasn't even there, I guess. Sure, our culture is different, but we do plenty of other stuff Jesus commands (and some people claim Jesus commands things the gospels never even recorded!). Why can't we let our feet be washed? Why can't we wash each other's feet? What is so wrong with this command, this profound act of selfless love that we in America--except for a couple denominations that call it a sacrament--won't do it? Something to think about on this "Maundy" Thursday.