Friday, April 08, 2011

Leaving an Example

John 13:15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

15 ὑπόδειγμα γὰρ ἔδωκα ὑμῖν ἵνα καθὼς ἐγὼ ἐποίησα ὑμῖν καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιῆτε.

I apologize for my lack of posting lately. I am really working hard to finish this semester well since it is my last semester. Blogging has gone on the back-burner, but since Noah woke me up early today I got a good start and have time for it.

This verse comes right after Jesus washed His disciples' feet. There are some who take this passage as a prescription for how we should treat each other in a literal way. They practice foot-washing. I understand that this is prevalent among the Grace Brethren when they have communion services.

I don't think that it is a bad idea for the pastor to wash people's feet, though it would be a bit strange in our culture. I can't think of any men I want handling my feet. The question is whether Jesus is speaking literally or metaphorically here. If you don't like the word "metaphorical" you could substitute "paradigmatically" instead. In other words, was Jesus giving a specific instruction or was He simply giving them a principle by which to live?

I would have to go with the latter. Though this is not an ironclad argument, the fact is that we do not find foot-washing in any of the other synoptic gospels. We do not find it in Acts or the Pauline epistles. I don't know what the practices of the early church were, but I do think that these other arguments from silence are fairly compelling. If it is meant to be done regularly, why don't we see it elsewhere in Scripture?

I realize that this is not a particularly strong argument, nor do I think it is a sinful practice today. However, I do think that we will not go wrong if we take this to be an example of extreme humility on Jesus' part, particularly given the context of the next few verses where He describes the master-servant relationship. We need to humbly serve one another in the body of Christ. There are plenty of examples of that throughout Scripture, amen? Are there examples of that in your life?

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