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Updated on February 2, 2014

Jesus began to wash His disciples' feet after the last supper (John 13:8). It is a glorious gesture of humility to wash one another's feet for it symbolizes humility especially for a master to wash his disciples' feet. Some call it "Footwashing" while others refer to it as "Washing of Feet". Whatever name it is called, it is the same rite that Jesus performed after the Holy Communion. Several church denominations observed it as a religious rite.

The Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church practises the washing of feet in connection with the Mass of the Lord's Supper. The pope washed the feet of twelve deacons and of thirteen poor men after dinner. Normally twelve men were chosen. With help of the ministers, who pour water over each one's feet, the priest dries them.

Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist

Anglican, Lutheran and Methodist churches observe Footwashing or Washing of Feet on Maundy Thursday services and at times on ordination services. The common practice has been connected with the Lord's supper while others practised it in connection with baptism.

The observance of washing the saints' feet is quite varied. The men and women participate in separate groups, men washing men's feet and women washing women's feet. Each member of the congregation takes a turn washing the feet of another member.

Passover Foot Washing in Te...
Passover Foot Washing in Te...

Seventh Day Adventist

Seventh Day Adventist celebrates the foot washing four times a year preceding Communion service. All members including pastors are invited to share in the washing of feet, men with men and women with women and spouse with spouse. They call it the Ordinance of Humility. The main purpose is to renew the cleansing that comes from God, and the other is to celebrate reconciliation with another member before the Holy Communion.

Footwashing and Washing of Feet as Ordinance

Baptist Church

Many Baptist Churches also observe the literal washing of feet as a third ordinance. This is practised regularly by members of the Brethren in Christ, Christian Baptist Church of God, General Association of Baptists, and Old Regular Baptist.

Brethren Church

Groups from such as Brethren Church, Church of the Brethren, Grace Brethren, and Old German Baptist Brethren observed the rite as one of three ordinances besides the Holy Communion and fellowship meal. Other related groups such as the Amish and some Mennonites also wash feet, This practice promotes humility and care for others,

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Joseph Smith Jr. introduced the ordinance of foot washing in the temple in the mid a ritual cleansing. Later it was expanded into the washing and anointing ceremony.

True Jesus Church

The True Jesus Church believes that footwashing is a scriptural sacrament based on John 13:1-11 like the other two sacraments, Baptism and Holy Communion. Unless the feet are washed, one does not have a part of Jesus (John 13:8, and are not saved). In John 13:8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."

John 13:13--17

  • Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

To have no part with Jesus is to have no salvation and hence, foot washing is essential like Baptism and Holy Communion.

Why Jesus Stressed the Importance of Washing of Feet

When the converts have gone through baptism and the blood of Jesus exonerated all the past sins, He emphasized the importance of the walk they must follow from thence forward. They must practise humility through an example of Christ. Christians do not know when God would call them back, and they must be aware of where their feet would lead them, either to the rock of Christ or to the miry clay that leads to destruction.

1. Psalms 119:105

  • Thy lamp is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

2. Psalms 56:13

  • For thou has delivered my soul from death; wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

3. Psalms 116:8

  • For thou has delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

4. Psalms 40:2

  • He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my going.

Non Practising Churches

Groups that do not observe foot washing as an ordinance believe the example of Jesus is usually held to be symbolic. Nevertheless, sometimes the rite is portrayed as hospitality or as a lesson to the congregation.

Footwashing or Washing of Feet

Do you agree with the practice of footwashing?

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    • profile image

      einron 6 years ago

      Triplet Mom

      When you searched with your heart, you will get your answer. God has answered your prayer. God bless.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Incredible hub! I have been wondering about foot washing for years and I have learned that and so much more. Thank you!