Jesus Washed Feet, Should We?

by J. F. Dancer, Jr.

In John 13, after Jesus had instituted the Lord’s Supper, we find that he washed his disciples’ feet (vs. 4-16). Many times the question arises, “Since Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, should we not wash one another’s feet?” Some in the denominational world have used this as justification to have a “foot washing service” as a part of the worship to God.


Washing feet is also mentioned in Luke 7 where a woman washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Then it is mentioned in 1 Timothy 5 as one of the deeds that would characterize some widows.


The usual mode of travel in Jesus’ day was walking. The roads and pathways were usually dusty. One of the signs of hospitality in that time was to wash (or, have a servant to wash) the feet of a guest when hey arrived in your house. This seems to be the thought in Luke 7 and seems to be given as a symbol of hospitality in 1 Timothy 5. It is certain that the lesson Jesus taught in John 13 was that of humility and service.


Saints still need to be humble in the sight of God (James 4:10) and in this humility be willing to do anything they can to relieve the distress of another – including washing their body (not just feet).  We should show hospitality to those who visit us, but washing another’s feet is not necessarily the only way to manifest this. And, we all (not just widows) should be active in doing good deeds.


To go through a ceremony of washing another’s feet when they don’t need washing is NOT a show of humility nor godliness. So far as I can see it is NOT something to be done in worship to God.


Let us leave it as the Bible does – a symbol of hospitality and good works. Let us manifest hospitality in other ways and do all good works expected by God – but let us not fall into a ritual of washing feet in applying the Scripture improperly.


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