Ahead of time, ask some of the women to prepare their favorite snacks to be shared as a part of the program.
The practice of foot washing can be found in the hospitality customs of ancient civilizations, especially where sandals were the chief footwear. A typical Eastern host might bow, greet, and kiss his guest, then offer water to allow the guest to wash his feet or have servants do it or even serve the guests by washing their feet himself. This is mentioned in several places in the Old Testament—Genesis 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; 1 Samuel 25:41. It is also recorded in other religious and historical documents. Though the wearing of sandals might necessitate washing the feet, the water was also offered as a courtesy even when shoes were worn. For further information on foot washing check the following website: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Foot_Washing.
Following the example of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet as recorded in John 13, have available bowls and towels so that the leaders can wash the women’s feet.
Discuss the Following:
- How did it make you feel to have your feet washed?
- What practices do you follow to show hospitality to guests who visit your home?
- Do you have any hospitality practices that were learned from your parents/grandparents?
- Have you experienced any hospitality practices that are totally different from yours? Did you like or dislike them?
Wash My Feet
Read John 13:1–17.
In some cultures, having a guest in the home is the most prestigious and happy event possible. Good hosts often spend all day cleaning and making sure the home looks and feels its best for the guest. They will offer the best seat in their home even if they don’t have a place to sit themselves. Gracious hosts will even offer their own bed to guests if they are spending the night. They will go out of their way to make sure guests have the best experience in their home.
In some homes, the host shows hospitality by receiving their guests by serving fancy appetizers, by carefully storing their coats and offering new house shoes or pretty socks to wear inside the home. I have a niece who loves having guests visit her home. When she was younger she would get super excited whenever her family had guests. She would offer them drinks, sit and chat, show them her dolls and tea set. Her excitement was such that she was always finding ways to make her guests feel comfortable and at home, so that they would want to come back again.
When I was a child I loved having people over to our home as well. Having guests meant that we would use the pretty china kept in the special china cabinet. My family always tried to serve the best savory food and specials treats. I have always loved beautiful and glitzy items and being able to eat on good china that made me feel very special too. Having guests over also meant that we would have yummy desserts and sweet cakes at the end of our meal. We splurged to make sure our guests enjoyed extra special treats.
In Jesus’ time on earth, the way to show hospitality was by washing the feet of guests as they entered the home. Sandals were the footwear of choice and people walked everywhere. They didn’t have cars, buses, trains or airplanes to get from one place to another. The roads were dusty and dirty and feet became soiled and tired. A good foot washing was very important for people after traveling to visit friends.
The passage in John tells us that Jesus was with His disciples at what we now know as the Last Supper, the traditional Passover meal. Jesus knew that the time was near when He would be betrayed by one of His own disciples and go to the cross. But that did not stop Him from extending hospitality to His guests and making them feel loved and welcomed.
Although the washing of feet was considered to be a servant’s job, Jesus, though He was the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords, showed us a great example to follow. He took off His robe and washed the feet of all the disciples. Later He asked them to do the same for others. By performing a simple kind act for His guests, Jesus provided an example for us of humility in action and taught us how to serve while showing pure love to others.
Today the leaders of this group showed love by washing your feet. Others prepared some of your favorite snacks. With these simple acts of humility, service and love they were following Jesus’ example.
This month as we reflect on Jesus and the sacrifice He made on the cross, I invite you to follow His example of pure love, humility and service with others—especially to those who share your home. Our prayer is to be like Jesus in every step of our lives.
Chorus #328 in The Salvation Army Song Book addresses our desire to be like Jesus. Sing this chorus in closing.