The Foot-Washing God
Since God is most high, He can only look down. Nothing is above Him; no one more exalted than He, so His eyes have no need to look up, only down. His eyes bend downward, earthward, to behold those who are in the depths, those such as you.
And what does God see when He looks down on you? He sees those who only want to look up, above themselves. However, the things above to which we look are not the things of God, but the things of this world. We look for money, power, honor, a life of whatever-makes-me-happy. We don’t look down at the depths of our own poverty, helplessness, dishonor, or the needs of our neighbors. We are like madmen who make believe they live on a mountaintop paradise while they drag their feet through a city slum. The reality of our selfishness and nothingness is too painful to confess, so we pretend we are someone we are not. And to give muscle to the lie, we keep our eyes pointed upward, away from whatever might remind us that dust we are and to dust we shall return.
Repent. If dust you are and to dust you shall return, then dust confess yourself to be. Drop the make-believe and confess reality. If you must be a madman, then be mad about man, mad about the pit we have dug and dropped ourselves into, mad about the city slum which we call our heart of hearts. Don’t look up; look down, for in looking down you are, ironically, like God, who has eyes only for the lowly.
In looking down you will not only see who you really are; you will also behold who God really is. For who He really is, is not the distant deity who merely gazes on us from above as we wallow in our pit. He is the God who joins us and who joins Himself to us. He not only has eyes for the lowly; but He also shares the flesh-and-blood of the lowly. The most high is incarnate as the most low.
And He washes our feet. The fingers that crafted the universe scrub the scum from between man’s toes. The hands that brilliantly painted the cosmos wash feet painted with the filth of dirt and sweat. The One before whom all angels bow gets on His knees to labor as a servant.
And in so doing, He gives us a humble epiphany, a revelation of who He is. He is the God who makes His glory visible in lowliness and servitude. He is the God who is so poor that He must borrow a donkey to ride into Jerusalem. He is the God who slaves away at washing the disciples’ feet. He is the God who gives His cheek to the betraying lips of Judas, to the slapping hand of the high priest, and to the spit of the Sanhedrin. He is the God who gives His head to the thorns, His feet to the spikes, His side to the spear. He is the God who embraces rejection, shame, torture, and death—all for you.
And here is why: because that’s simply who God is. He is the God who is love and therefore loves you by giving to you. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son; what He gives you is nothing less than Himself.
He not only washes your feet; He washes you clean, body and soul, through the holy bath in His name. He fills the font with water from His side and kneels there to wash the dirt and sweat of your sin. He not only gives His body to the executioners and His blood to the dust beneath Him; but He also gives His body into your mouth and His blood into the dust of your flesh. And thereby you are transformed, changed from a lowly son of the dust to an adopted son of God most high. Every natural food we take into our bodies is transformed into our bodies. Only the supper of our Lord is different, for this food transforms you into that which it is. You, the Church, are the body of Christ and the blood of Christ. When you consume the Son, you assume the Son’s rightful place on the Father’s heavenly throne.
Come and eat. Come and drink. Come to the lowly God who has joined you in your lowliness that He might exalt you in Himself to the place of the most high.
**This reflection appears in Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, which you can read more about below.
What we need in our fragmented world, full of hurting people, is the love of Jesus Christ, who welcomes home sinners with a grace that knows no bounds. My book Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons, is packed with reflections that go that extra mile of grace. Again and again, they present the Christ who is crucified and risen for you. Please take a moment to check it out here. You may also be interested in my collections of hymns and poetry entitled, The Infant Priest, which you can purchase here. Both books are also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing (also on Kindle). Thank you for your prayers and support!