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JOHN 13:4-16 NTBDC: What is meant by the foot-washing? Does it mean that this should be performed as a ceremony by Christians?
The cultural custom of washing another’s feet in the days of Jesus was such because people wore open sandals, and their feet would get filthy on the dusty roads they traveled. Once they arrived at their destination, it was necessary that they wash their feet. However, since travel was so arduous in those days, a traveler would undoubtedly be tired from his trip, and he would have been given the courtesy of having his feet washed by the lowest servant at the direction of the host. (Luke 7:44) It was not common for the Christians to have servants because many were poor; the service would then be carried out by the host or hostess. (1 Tim. 5:10)
John 13:14-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
He was attempting to offer his disciples an object lesson in humility and love (Matt 23:12; Lu 14:11), who were constantly bickering about who was greater. Thus, Jesus, the greatest man to ever live, the Son of God himself, took up the menial task that the lowest servant in a house would be asked to perform. So, yes, Jesus set a precedent, alright. We are to follow his example by taking on the qualities and characteristics of humility and love, ready to be of service in a practical way to our brothers or sisters, as well as our neighbors or even a stranger.