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of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, 1995
Article 13. Foot Washing
We believe that Jesus
Christ calls us to serve one another in love as he did. Rather than
seeking to lord it over others, we are called to follow the example of
our Lord, who chose the role of a servant by washing his disciples'
Just before his death,
Jesus stooped to wash the disciples' feet and told them, "So if I, your
Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one
another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should
do as I have done to you."  In this
act, Jesus showed humility and servanthood, even laying down his life
for those he loved. In washing the disciples' feet, Jesus acted out a
parable of his life unto death for them, and of the way his disciples
are called to live in the world.
Believers who wash each
other's feet show that they share in the body of Christ.  They thus acknowledge their frequent need
of cleansing, renew their willingness to let go of pride and worldly
power, and offer their lives in humble service and sacrificial love. 
(1) John 13:14-15.
(2) John 13:8.
(3) Matt. 20:20-28; Mark 9:30-37; Luke 22:25-27.
1. Foot washing was common in first-century Palestine, where people
wore sandals to walk the dusty roads. Normally, people washed their own
feet. Occasionally a disciple would wash the feet of a teacher as an
act of extraordinary devotion (see John 12:1-8). No one would have
expected Jesus, the master, to wash his disciples' feet.
2. John 13:1-30 recounts Jesus' washing his disciples' feet. The act is
followed by a commentary (13:31-17:26), which explains what it meant
for Jesus to love his own who were in the world unto the end (13:1),
even those who would betray or deny him. His love reached all the way
to laying down his life for them (15:13). He laid aside the privileges
of power, although "the Father had given all things into his hands"
(13:3). He showed the true power that comes through servanthood: "He
humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death
on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him" (Phil. 2:8-9).
Those who follow Jesus
are likewise called to let go of privilege and pride in order to love
others more fully, even those who are hard to love. By this life of
love, they show that they are cleansed and a part of Christ (John
13:8-10). Washing one another's feet is a way of expressing this
commitment to follow Jesus in powerful, humble service.
3. Among our
congregations, some practice foot washing, while others have
discontinued the practice or have never observed it. Congregations are
encouraged to practice foot washing when it is a meaningful symbol of
service and love for each other. "Washing the feet of the saints" (1
Tim. 5:10) is one way of representing Christ to each other in acts of
hospitality, service, and love.
the delegates of Mennonite Church General Assembly, and of the General
Conference Mennonite Church Tricentennial Session, July 28, 1995,
Wichita, Kansas. Copyright © 1995 by Herald Press Scottdale PA
15683. Used by permission. Order print copies of Confession of
Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, and Summary Statement,
Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, From Herald Press, Scottdale,
Pa. Worship resources
based on this confession, and translations
are also available.
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