FOLLOW, LEAD AND STAND
BY: ROMEO CORSINI
“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) Feet, to us, the believers, are symbols of how great a work Jesus accomplished on our behalf, and of all that remains of our responsibility in that accomplishment.
Peter had just been convicted by Jesus about how necessary it was that Jesus wash Peter’s feet; therefore Peter remarked: “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head,’ (John 13:9), to the which “Jesus saith unto him, he that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit…” (John 13:10) Jesus stresses the significance of our feet to show that our responsibility to his accomplishment is to rest in it.
Throughout the scriptures, the washing of the feet has symbolized resting from long journeys or tiring work as well as the honorable compliment of a host to a visitor when he would tell his visitor, “Sit a spell, and wash your feet.” This would be accompanied with provisions to do it, such as water and soap and fragrances. In those days all this was not so small an offer. Therefore, washing of the feet was a precise act of resting and feeling clean. Part of feeling clean includes that others see you clean. The feet would generally be exposed and to sit in the presence of others with exposed clean feet is very comfortable. To get up again and go about your business is to dirty your feet again. Thus Jesus tells us that, since our entire body is already clean, all we need do from now on is to “keep our feet clean.” Yet it does not end there with ourselves but continues with each other.
“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” (John 13:4-8) We must remember that Jesus did whatever he did, not for himself, but for others. As representatives of Jesus, we are not here for ourselves so much as we are here for each other. Then what place does washing each other’s feet have and what meaning? It was never meant to be a ritual. If it does not mean something in its message then it is a silly act. It is not an act; it is a sign. Amongst other things, I’m sure, this is one I clearly see. Just as Jesus tells us that all we need to do to keep clean is to keep our own feet clean, so are we responsible for each others’ cleanliness. Everything we do is an influence one way or the other. You do have a part with me and I do have a part with you. “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” (John 13:8) I do not walk this walk of salvation alone. Salvation is one; we all hold on to that same salvation.
I must learn the “talk” also. That is, the good news is brought to us by the feet of the servants of the Lord. We are servants of Jesus and we bear good news of salvation. We must admire each other’s feet and recognize how worthy of washing they are! “That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” (1 Cor 12:25)
Abigail’s husband, Nabal, had just insulted David, and David saw fit to take the law into his own hands to murder Nabal and all Nabal’s men. But Abigail had been informed of David’s intention and took provisions and gifts to David with the purpose of convincing him that he should not act hastily and ruin his righteousness in the matter. David was grateful that Abigail brought him to his senses and promised he would not do any harm. One morning after Abigail had returned to her home and husband, she told Nabal what she had done. Nabal’s reaction was to have a heart attack and die. When David heard that Abigail’s husband had died, he sent his servants to ask her to be his wife, because she was beautiful and wise. Abigail’s response to David’s servants for such good news was that of a servant’s servant. “And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my Lord.” (1 Samuel 25:41) This is clearly what Jesus is showing us. This is how worthy the feet of those who bring good news are. They are worthy enough to be washed by those who receive the news. Jesus knew that the feet that he was washing were feet as worthy as his because they would continue having a part with him by carrying the good news to all the earth. Abigail was the bride-to-be of the chosen King of Israel and still she knew to bow as low as the feet of the ones who brought her the good news and to wash them with the waters of her grateful heart. Can we ask of ourselves: Are our feet worthy of being washed by another? You have but to wash your feet, Jesus said, or have them washed, because you are clean now. (John 13:10) To wash your feet means to have made them needful of washing.
The woman sinner brought to Jesus an alabaster box of ointment, weeping. After washing his feet with her tears, drying them with her long hair, and anointing them with oil from the box, Jesus told her, Thy sins are forgiven…Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:37-50) This good news that she heard was great enough for her to know that she wanted it enough to yearn for it, enough to be willing to demonstrate her gratefulness for it. Such hunger is rewarded by the Lord with fulfillment.
Feet tend to swell when one sits for too long a period. They can ache then. They grow callouses when walked on in rough terrain, with bad shoes, in harsh weather. But after the work, to sit and have them pampered is relaxation worthy of a dream! Because with the rest comes the confidence of knowing the good work that was done with them. How seldom do feet get recognition! Bad conditions of the feet extend their effect even to one’s back. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29) But perhaps the greatest reason feet hold such important symbolism in our lives is because of what that symbolism means.
What are the three basic, most important things that feet do?
“And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed him.” (Luke 5:11) “And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him.” (Luke 5:27-28) “The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Phillip, and saith unto him, Follow me.” (John 1:43) THEY FOLLOW.
“And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” (Luke 5:10) THEY LEAD.
…”Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13) AND THEY STAND!
All three responsibilities that the feet hold are shared equally, one no less important then the other. We find ourselves at various moments in any one of those positions. Our responsibility is to acknowledge that given position and respond accordingly, ever ready to be of service to the Lord.
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
Ours is a glorious life filled with activity in the Lord: we follow the Lord; we lead the sheep; and we stand against the deceiver. We keep ourselves prepared by feeding ourselves spiritually with the truth that we might not follow a false prophet, lead others astray, or stand in vain. We follow Jesus by being Christ–like as we walk our lives; we lead others by being prepared to share the word of salvation and the word of deliverance to anyone who needs them; and we stand by keeping our entire being conditioned to know the voice of God so that we can declare without reservation, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” (Joshua 24:15)
FOLLOW, LEAD AND STAND [Romeo Corsini] 1