4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
I went the KJV for this post because of reasons that will be clear later in this post.
God humbled Himself first by becoming man, then a servant, and finally a sacrifice. Yet, we struggle with pride all the time. While its true that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10), sin existed before the invention of money. Satan's pride led to his downfall because he wanted God's power, position, and authority. (Isaiah 14:13-14). Satan didn't want to worship God, he wanted to be God! When that failed, he appealed to man's pride, promising the woman that she would be like God if only she would listen to Him. God defeated Satan through humility. Jesus didn't live in a palace or have fancy things. His humiliating death was a public spectacle. Even then, he forgave His enemies. If you read the entire chapter of John, it appears that Jesus even washed Judas Iscariot's feet because he didn't leave until a later point.
Many Baptist churches, especially Primitive Baptist churches, in the mountains where I was raised often held foot washing services in earlier generations. I always thought that was an interesting practice and I asked my wife about it a few months after we got married. I did not ask, but she washed my feet. We went to an Easter Service where they also included foot washing. Husbands and wives washed each other;s feet while unmarried people were attended to by young adults of the same sex.
Last year, I washed my wife's feet just before Easter. A couple of weekends ago, I was homesick for the mountains and spent my free time listening to one of the best known hymns of the region called "Brethren We Have Met to Worship." The last verse contains the line: Christ will gird Himself and serve us.
Our pastor decided to incorporate foot washing into our service a couple of Sundays ago. He didn't pressure anyone and let us take our time. I wanted to, but my body didn't want to follow. My wife and I had done this several times in private, but never in such a public setting. I attempted to stand up twice in order to try to make it to the front of the altar where the water bowls and towels were. All the while, the line from the hymn was on my mind. We must have been in our pew for about 15 minutes and I was bawling pretty badly at that point.
I knew I just had to do it. It wasn't so much for me as it was for somebody who might need an example to follow because washing feet was something Jesus did. Maybe their was a boy there that had never seen a grown man humble himself. Maybe there was somebody there in the same shape as I was and needed to see somebody else go through with it. I also discovered that the nursery has a live feed of each service. I don't know how much two year olds can process, but my son may have been the very person I needed to be an example for.
I was at one of those places in life where you can't depend on yourself. You have to swallow your pride and say, "Okay, God. I can't do this without you. Your going to have to give me the strength for me to get up and walk towards the front." This is exactly what I said. I was able to stand up. I said, "God, its now or never." I held on to my wife as we made our way to the front of the church.
She washed my feet first which made me feel about a million times worse. Then I washed her feet. I realize this was a solemn occasion, but if I had anymore of this emotional atmosphere, I was going to pop and they were going to have to carry me out of the church. So I did something naughty. I gently tickled her feet. She giggled and it caused me to relax a little bit.
I made it through the foot washing service because I was able to depend on God to get me through it. We can do many things on our own, but we will never to do the things of God unless we stop relying on our own strength.