Washing the Feet
By Dr. Ken Matto
John 13:5 (KJV)   After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
One of the clearest lessons that the Lord taught His disciples was that of servanthood, in that, no task was below them and they should not have any reservations about doing tasks that seem menial.  When the Lord took the basin of water and began to wash the feet of the disciples, they were set back and did not want the Lord to do that, especially Peter since he thought that was below the Master’s position.  The one who normally did that job was a slave who washed the dust off the feet of the guests.  The streets in ancient times were not paved so dust would build up on the feet and they needed to be cleaned.  The great lesson here is that of servanthood and the Lord’s followers must be willing to do the tasks which seem below the status of the Christian especially if that Christian holds some type of elevated position in the community.  While servanthood is in view in this verse, there is also a deeper meaning which can be extracted from this verse.
If you notice in this verse the emphasis is on the washing of the feet.  In the above verse we see that that there is a physical washing but we can gather from other Scriptures that the feet in view also need a spiritual washing.  In Isaiah 52:7, we read a great verse concerning beautiful feet bringing the good tidings of good which publishes salvation. 
Isaiah 52:7 (KJV)   How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Isaiah 52:7 can stand alone as a great gospel verse which has at its root the sending forth of the Gospel.  However, when we search the Scriptures we find the same principle in Romans 10:15:
Romans 10:15 (KJV)   And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Notice that in Romans 10:15, the feet of those are also in view as the ones bringing the gospel to the world.  Now let us go back to the upper room where Jesus did this the night before He went to the cross. 
If you recall when Jesus got the basin of water and towel and began to wash the feet of the disciples, He was rebuked by Peter.  Peter did not think it was proper for the Master to do the work of a common house slave.
John 13:8 (KJV)   Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Here Peter once again speaks hastily in that he wanted no part of what the Lord was doing.  You see Peter was looking at this task from a purely human point of view while Jesus viewed it from a purely spiritual point of view.  Jesus tells Peter that if He does not wash his feet, then he has no part with Him.  Isn’t that interesting!  So does that mean if our feet are dirty we cannot have a part in Jesus?  The answer is yes and no.  I will give the details of the answer further on.
John 13:14 (KJV)   If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
As we progress in the upper room discourse, we find in John 13:14 that since the Lord washed their feet then they “ought” to wash one another’s feet.  The word “ought” in the Greek carries with it the meaning of “owe or be in debt.”  It refers to the obligation as actually being imposed.  So does that mean we need to physically wash the feet of all Christians we come in contact with?  So then what debt is imposed upon the true believer?  We find the answer to that in Romans 13:8:
Romans 13:8 (KJV)   Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8 states we are not to owe anyone anything but to love one another.  If I love someone then does that automatically mean I have fulfilled the law?  Of course not, there is only way a Christian fulfills the law of God.  We will find that out in the following three verses.
1 Corinthians 6:11 (KJV)   And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Titus 3:5 (KJV)   Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Revelation 1:5 (KJV)   And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
In 1 Corinthians 6:11, the Scripture teaches us we are washed.  Then in Titus 3:5 we are told what type of washing.  In Revelation 1:5 we are told how we were washed.  So we plainly see that the washing which is in view has to do with salvation.  The true believer has fulfilled the requirements of God’s holy law in Christ.  Those who have received the grace of God in salvation have fulfilled the law.
So now let us go back to John 13:8 where Jesus tells Peter that if He does not wash him, he has no part with Him.  In other words, the washing that is in view is salvation and the fact that the feet are in view is a precursor to their marching orders they will receive on Pentecost.  So if a person is not washed by Christ, then they have no part in Him and remain unsaved.  The unsaved have absolutely no part in Christ.
Christ washed our feet and now we must wash the feet of others or each other.  We are to bring the Gospel to others because this is what the feet do, they cause us to go from place to place.  We also saw that we are not to owe any man anything but love. What is the highest form of love a Christian can offer?  It is the eternal gospel of Christ.  We have a mandate to send the gospel to the whole world and it is a command and not a suggestion.  Romans 10:15 speaks about those who are sent in conjunction with the mentioning of the feet.  Woe to those Christians who do nothing for the kingdom of God.
“So does that mean if our feet are dirty we cannot have a part in Jesus?  The answer is yes and no.”  I asked this question previously and here is the simple answer.  If my feet are physically dirty but spiritually clean, I have a part with the Lord Jesus but if my feet are physically nice and clean but still spiritually dirty, I have no part with Jesus.
To summarize this study concerning foot washing.  It means that the feet of them who bring good tidings and salvation are attached to the saved and that is how we have a part in Jesus.  Now we understand why Jesus washed the feet of the disciples because He was giving us a physical example of a great spiritual principle.  It can basically be considered a parable.