“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!"’ Isaiah 52:7
How do you feel about your feet? It seems that many people feel self-conscious about theirs. They complain about crooked toes, yellow toenails, or smelly feet. Or people complain that their feet are flat, or they’re too big, or too small. Hardly anyone is happy with their feet.
Paul writes, “and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,” 1 Corinthians 12:23.
Probably most people would put their feet in the less honorable category, at the very least. I think that’s where Jesus put them.
On the evening of the Last Supper with his disciples, John tells us that after the meal, Jesus took off his outer garment, put on an apron, poured water in a basin, and began washing his disciple’s feet, drying them with his apron.
This was something only a servant would do in a master’s home. But Jesus elevates this act by washing his disciples’ feet. And it’s in connection with the footwashing that Jesus gives them a new command, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Washing his disciples’ feet was an act of intimacy. It’s not something a person lets just anyone do. Even so, Simon Peter objected, more on the grounds that Jesus should not be doing this, and if he was supposed to, Peter needed to be cleaned all over.
Jesus gave honor to a less than honorable part of the body, investing it with a kind of holiness as he paired it with the new commandment. Feet and love don’t seem to fit together, but as the prophet Isaiah proclaims, feet can be beautiful when they carry good news, proclaim peace, good tidings, and salvation.
During this year’s Maundy Thursday service, we will be revisiting Jesus’ command to love one another as we wash the feet of a few selected individuals (No worries - only people who have volunteered will participate). It is a time for us to remember that Jesus meets us in our vulnerability and commands us to love others in the same way.
It’s easy to love people when they’re successful, beautiful or handsome, witty and charming. Not so much when they’re struggling, perhaps unattractive, and have a difficult personality. But if we serve them and love them, we are doing just what Jesus commanded.
When we help the downtrodden and overlooked, Isaiah says our feet are beautiful. It’s cheaper than a pedicure and it brings newness of life to another. It also fulfills the command Jesus gave in parting to his disciples. Love one another as I have loved you.
During our Lenten journey, we travel many places. Will your journey lead you to deeper love for all people? Will your feet become beautiful?