[i]If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.[/i](John 13:14-15)
"He riseth from supper, and layeth aside His garment; and He took a towel and girded Himself." This is what the Apostle calls taking upon Himself the form of a servant. The charm of the scene is its absolute simplicity. You cannot imagine Christ posturing to the ages. The was not aiming at effect, no thought of beauty or humility of the act, as there is when the Pope yearly washes the feet of twelve beggars from a golden basin, wiping them with a towel of rarest fabric! Christ did not act thus for show or pretence, but with an absolutely single purpose of fulfilling the needed office. And in this He set forth the spirit of our redemption.
[b]This is the key to the incarnation.[/b] With slight alteration the words will read truly of that supreme act. He rose from the Throne; laid aside the garments of light which He had worn as His vesture; took up the poor towel of humanity, and wrapped it about His glorious person; poured out His own blood into the basin of the Cross; and set Himself to wash away the foul stains of human depravity and guilt.
As pride was the source of human sin, Christ must needs provide an antidote in His absolute humility - a humility which could not grow beneath the skies, but must be brought from the world where the lowliest are the greatest and the most childlike reign as kings.
[b]This is the key to every act of daily cleansing.[/b] We have been washed - once definitely and irrovocably, we have been bathed in the crimson tide that flows from Calvary, but we need a daily cleansing. Our feet become soiled with the dust of life's highways; our hands grimy as our linen beneath the rain of filth in a great city; our lips - as the white doorstep of the house - are fouled by the incessant throng of idle, unseemly, and fretful words; our hearts cannot keep unsoiled the stainless robes with which we pass from the closet at morning prime. Constantly we need to repair to the Laver to be washed.
But do we always realize how much each act of confession on our part involves from Christ on His? Whatever important work He may at the moment have on hand; whatever directions He may be giving to the loftiest angels for the fulfillment of His purposes; however pressing the concerns of the Church or the Universe upon His broad shoulders - He must needs turn from all these to do a work He will not delegate. Again, He stoops from the Throne, and girds Himself with a towel, and , in all lowliness, endeavors to remove from thee and me the stain which His love dare not pass over. He never loses the print of the nails; He never forgets Calvary and the blood; He never spends one hour without stooping to do the most menial work of cleansing filthy souls. And it is because of this humility He sits on the Throne and wields the scepter over hearts and worlds.
[b]This is the key to our ministry to each other.[/b] I have often thought that we do not often enough wash one another's feet. We are conscious of the imperfections which mar the characters of those around us. We are content to note, criticize, and learn them. We dare not attempt to remove them. This failure arises partly because we do not love with a love like Christ's - a love which will brave resentment, annoyance, rebuke, in its quest - and partly because we are not willing to stoop low enough.