You will never wash my feet.
You mustn’t, Lord. You mustn’t wash my dirty, dusty heels and arches and toes.
Lord, feet are…gross. You don’t need to see that. I haven’t had a pedicure in months. Let’s not go there right now. Let’s do something else.
No, Lord, don’t look there. No, Lord, don’t see that. Lord, just let me take care of it, you don’t need to bother yourself with all this. Let me hide them. Let me put them back inside my socks and shoes where no one has to see, least of all you. Can’t we just tuck them away? Please, Lord, you don’t need to wash my feet.
Honestly, to see you, the Lord of all, stooping down so low—it’s embarrassing. Someone has to save you from yourself. Stop making a fool of yourself. Hire that out. Delegate it to someone else. Please, Lord, no. You will never wash my feet.
What do you mean, I will understand later? What is there to understand? My feet are not worth washing. You don’t need to see, in each speck of dirt, in each callous, where I’ve been. You don’t need to know how they hurt in the morning or get hot in the sun or freeze when I can’t find my slippers. This is too much information for you. I want to protect you from it—I want to shield you from knowing too much about me, for your sake, yes, for your sake, Lord—there is no possible way you need to know all that about me. You don’t need to wash my feet.
Why do my feet even matter to you, anyway? There is Very Important Work to be done and Very Important People who need to be off doing it. You don’t need to bother with me, Lord. Surely you have More Important Things to worry about than if I’ve washed between my toes. No, Lord, someone else’s feet, maybe, but mine? No, let’s move on. You will never wash my feet.
Oh, so now unless you wash me, I have no share with you? Now you’re giving ultimatums? If I don’t do it your way, it’s over for me?
This doesn’t seem fair, Lord. All I want is to keep my feet to myself. I do all the other things you say, I go to church, I give my offerings! Why can’t I hold back this one thing? Why isn’t that enough for you? No! I won’t let you do this! You will never wash my feet!
I mean, okay, they’re dusty, so what! Fine, they’ve got some blemishes here and there! I never said they were perfect! I never pretended otherwise! What you’re telling me is that you—you, the Lord of all—want to wash them up, to make them soft and strong? That’s ridiculous! You didn’t make the mess, why should you be the one to clean it up?
And besides, who you are you to tell me what I should do with my feet anyway? They’re my feet. Maybe I like them just the way they are. Maybe I don’t need you to come here, when we were all just trying to have a nice dinner, and look down at my feet and tell me they’re not clean enough for you. I don’t mind them this way. I’m used to it. In fact, I rather prefer it. I don’t see why your rules about foot hygiene should run my life! So if you want to kick me out for that, kick me out! Lord, you will never wash my feet!
But if I did let you wash them, and I’m not saying I will, but if I did, what would happen? What would happen if you washed me?
Seriously? I would wash their feet? And they would wash mine? But, Lord, the dirt. Lord, the way we’ll see the embarrassing, not-so-nice parts of one another. To wash and be washed, to serve and be served, to give and to take—Lord, are you sure there isn’t another way?
Yet if I let you wash my feet, and I wash the feet of others, then everyone will know, won’t they? They will know that I am your disciple. They will know that I follow you.
Oh, Lord, I want them to know—I want them to see—that I belong to you.
It’s not possible with your washing, is it? You have to wash my feet so that I can wash their feet and receive their washing in return. The new commandment you have given us, to love one another just as you have loved us, this is how it happens, right?
Yes, I see that now. I see it.
Well then, Lord, yes. Wash my feet. Yes, Lord, wash my feet. Yes. Wash my feet.