Hebs 10:22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. The word ‘wash’ comes up a lot in the Bible, both in the old and new testaments which revealed to me that God want us to cleans ourselves as we position ourselves for His glory.
In the old testament, the priests had to wash their hands and feet, before entering the holy place of the tabernacle to offer sacrifice on the altar; this ritual was symbolic of their duties as priest – Ex 30: 17 Then the Lord said to Moses, 18 “Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it. 20 Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting a food offering to the Lord, 21 they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.” The basin and the water represent the cleansing power of the Word of God. This cleansing from bodily uncleanness was a symbol of putting away the filth of sin; the washing of the body therefore was a symbol of spiritual cleansing, without which no one can draw near to God – a physical act. Water was taken from a basin and this meant that as they (the priests) peered into the water, they could see the reflection of their faces and truly connect with the symbolism of the act; which was to see themselves as they truly were: lives continually stained by the realities of life.
When we wash our hands, we are washing the hands clean of any dirt and when we wash our feet we are also washing the feet clean of any dirt. Dirt of actions and dirt of where we have been and this is a symbolic spiritual act. Jesus showed us in Jn 13 how important this act was and wanted us to follow suit; verse 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. This is a vital lesson for us from Christ. He commands that we humble ourselves and follow His example. Although the primary lessons are humility, love and service, there is another lesson we can learn about being clean spiritually and being an influence on others, which helps them to be spiritually clean.
Christ’s followers are cleansed at baptism, and we are further cleansed each time we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. But as we go through the daily “walk” of life, some of the worldly influences rub off on us, like dust gets on the feet of someone walking. 1 Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. The Lord will purify us by the cleansing power of the Word of God. In our daily self-reflection, it helps to consider the cleansing we need through Christ’s sacrifice, the cleansing that we have received, and the cleansing we help others to seek. Our daily hand and foot washing ceremony helps reinforce these lessons.
The priests of today and us no longer need to practise such rituals, as we are under grace and the Holy Spirit lives in us. The act of washing was so important back then, that in Matt 27, Pilate did so in order to exonerate himself from Jesus’s death. Matt 27:24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
Washing is about looking within, correcting our wrongs and being conscious of what we do and where our feet lead us. Today, this is done according to Ephs 5:26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word… We believers have been ‘washed in the blood’ but as we walk toward home through this sinful dirty world, our feet involuntarily accumulates the thoughts of this earth which are incompatible with God’s truth. The Holy Spirit washes our minds with the water of the Word, so we can continue to walk by faith with our risen Lord.
As we continue to walk with Christ on earth, let us remember Prvb 6:17 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.