What Kind of God Washes Filthy Feet?

BY CHAD BIRD

Since God is most high, He can only look down. Nothing is above Him. No one is more exalted than He is. So His eyes have no need to look up, only down. His eyes bend downward, earthward, to behold those who are in the depths. There He sees us.

And what does God see when He looks down on us? He sees those who only want to look up, above themselves.

We look up, but not to God. We look up to 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, and 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.

Drop the make-believe and confess reality. If we must be a madman, then let's 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.

In looking down you are 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. He 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 in the pit. And in that pit, He joins Himself to us. He not only has eyes for the lowly. 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.
We become clean, He becomes filthy.

In doing this, He gives us a humble epiphany, a revelation of who He is. What kind of God washes filthy feet? 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. Therefore He 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 baptismal font with water from His side and kneels there to wash off the dirt and sweat of your sin. He gives His body to the executioners and His blood to the dust 

He transforms you. He changes you 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. 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.

Chad is an author and speaker who's devoted to honest Christianity that addresses the raw realities of life with the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ. Chad has served as a pastor and assistant professor of OT theology, contributed hymns to the Lutheran Service Book, and cohosts the podcast “Forty Minutes in the OT.” He holds Master's degrees from Concordia Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College. In addition to writing the books, Christ Alone and The Infant Priest, he has contributed articles to Modern Reformation, The Federalist, Concordia Pulpit Resources, and other journals. His new book with Eerdmans, Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul, is now available for pre-order at Amazon. His writings and other resources can be found at his website, chadbird.com. Chad and his wife, Stacy, enjoy life together in the Texas Hill Country.

Twitter: @Birdchadlouis