Thursday, August 3, 2017

Why did Jesus not choose any women to wash their feet?

Some of you probably recognize the title of this article. It is a take on the retort from some brothers and sisters when the discussion revolves around our sisters in ministry: Why did Jesus not choose any women to be apostles? It sounds impressive. It sounds informative. It sounds knowledgeable. It is none of these.

My own use of the reference to Jesus washing feet is found in the gospel according to John 13. John is the only one who records that time when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. It happened on the same night in which he kept the Passover one last time with them. It was the same night that he declared and ordained the Lord’s Supper as the new covenant in his blood. It was the same night in which he was betrayed by one of the disciples.

Why did Jesus wash the feet of the disciples? Why did he perform such a lowly, menial and humble task for them? There are subtle lessons which many have rightly gleaned for themselves as individuals. Some of the same, subtle lessons are lost to some saints who beam with joyful pride because, as they testify, their church practices feet washing. Were it not for the fact that it was Jesus who washed the feet of the disciples we would not know whether it was a male or female who washed their feet. We would not care. The disciples would have overlooked that servant just as they overlooked the fact that they had sat down to eat with unwashed feet.

weighty matters
There were two weighty matters which the disciples did not know. The first one of these weighty matters Jesus told them, when Peter mistakenly flashed his opposition at Jesus washing his feet. The disciples did not realize what Jesus had done, but that they would understand thereafter. The second one of these weighty matters and which follows immediately afterward the disciples themselves readily conceded that they did not know. They did not know where Jesus was going. The disciples did not understand what Jesus had done nor did they know where he was going. There is an even farther and greater implication in the disciples not knowing these things and which speaks just as much to us today. If we do not understand what Jesus did and where he went, then we could be just as much at a loss to understand what we do and where we are going.

going into prepared places
The disciples were on the brink of entering and going into something far beyond sitting and keeping the Passover with the Lord. They were about to go out and enter into the world as the apostles and servants of God. They were to render ministry in the house of God, but also in the world. It is this to which Jesus seems to allude when he spoke of his Father’s many houses among which Jesus would soon go ahead and prepare a place for them.

We often think of these many houses as being places in heaven, our final place of rest with God. Yet, if we think of about the life and ministry of Jesus he was about the Father’s business always. Everywhere he went the Father was with him just as he would be with the disciples in his many dwelling places. Wherever Jesus was there, too, was the Father because the Son was in the Father just as the Father was in the Son. Some of those places where the disciples, like Jesus, would enter in their ministry included places of suffering as well as places of joy and celebration. The greatest preparation which Jesus was about to accomplish on behalf of the disciples was his death, burial and resurrection. They could have no better preparation to equip and embolden them as they went about the Father’s business. God was no less present with them than he was with Jesus at all times. The significance and meaning of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples was not lost to Jesus. It was an ancient practice with which the disciples were likely familiar and which they had likely observed the priests do before they entered the temple.

the laver of bronze
God had commanded Moses to command Bezalel to build all the utensils and many other items in the construction of the tabernacle. It was Bezalel who created the bronze laver for the tabernacle. This laver of bronze was to be located between the altar and the tent of meeting. Centuries later Solomon would greatly enlarge the laver of bronze when he presided over the construction of the temple of God in Jerusalem. Hiram built the laver from which the priests were to wash their feet and their hands before entering the tent of meeting, that is, the temple. The infamy of King Ahaz is noted in that among other evil things which he did he cut and separated the sea of bronze, as it was called, from its mounting on the backs of twelve oxen and setting it on pavement during his reign.

women who served
Moses, per the commandment of God, had commanded that the priests were to wash their hands and feet before going into the tent of meeting. The scripture notes that Moses had this laver built from the bronze mirrors of the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. This poses a fair question. How did those women serve? The scripture never states specifically and it is for us to discern not only how they might have served, but to consider the implications of their service. It is not improbable and quite reasonable and plausible that they may well have washed the feet and hands of the priests to prepare them before they entered the tent of meeting. Any priest who failed or neglected to comply with the washing of his feet and hands would most certainly die. The same answer is just as plausible to the question as to how Anna the prophetess of the tribe of Asher served night and day in the temple. It was she who prophesied at the circumcision of the baby Jesus.

what you do not realize
What is it that you do not realize about why Jesus did not choose women to be apostles? Merely posing the questions is hardly an indication or realization of understanding as to what Jesus did and why he did it. The question is not posed so as to examine it, particularly among males, but rather it is to sheepishly assert that women, when it comes to serving, are best to remain outside out the temple. Out there they can perform the most menial tasks such as washing feet.

What this view fails to realize is the very reasonable and plausible likelihood that Jesus aligned himself, as always, with the lowly and the overlooked in the most improbable and unexpected ways. There was one menial, but immensely vital task, which was to be performed before the priests entered into the tent of meeting. There was one group who is identified as serving at the door of the that tent of meeting. It was women.

a disturbing discomfort
If this makes you uncomfortable this is understandable. Peter experienced and expressed his great disturbing discomfort at the idea of Jesus washing his feet. Be mindful before you dismiss that discomfort lest you fail to realize that there is something here that you do not understand . Be mindful, lest you hear Jesus say to you, then you have no part with me.

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