John 13:10a – Jesus replied, "A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean." (NLT)
Sometimes, chickens leave behind more than eggs and meat.
My maternal grandmother had a dozen or so chickens wandering around her yard. At night, she enclosed them in a small pen, complete with a coop. There, they slept and laid eggs.
Being the country boys that we were, my cousin and I stayed outside most of the time, romping through the woods, playing in the hog pens, and mulling around in the yard — the same yard that the chickens scratched in. Since we didn't always wear shoes during the summer months — and even if we did — our grandmother would warn us before we came onto her porch or into her house: "Check your feet (or shoes)."
Chickens, it appeared, left more than eggs, and my grandmother didn't want it on her porch or in her house. When we discovered this unwanted material on our shoes, we paused to scrape them on the dirt or on a grassy patch. Doing so became such a habit that eventually our grandmother didn't have to remind us as much.
In Jesus' day, getting one's feet dirty was a fact of life. If shoes were worn, they were open sandals, and open sandals don't keep out dirt. Since the main form of travel was by foot, people's feet stayed dirty. When guests entered a house, it was common for the owner — or his slave — to wash their feet. He didn't, however, wash their entire bodies. If the people needed a full bath, they could tend to that.
Jesus' meaning in today's verse is deeper. The bath happens when I trust Christ as my Saviour. God the Father takes the righteousness of His Son and applies it to my sin, making me pure and holy in position — although not in practice. But daily living is like walking in my grandmother's yard. I'm subject to getting my feet messy with unwanted things. The world is full of sinful influences and testy temptations.
The news isn't all bad though. Jesus says that I just need to wash my feet. Through the spiritual disciplines of praying, meditating on the Bible, and confessing, I scrape my feet across the dirt or on a grassy patch and remove what shouldn't be there. Confession brings restoration, and knowing God's Word keeps my lifestyle aligned with His principles.
Let's learn to mind what the chickens of this world leave behind.
Prayer: Father, give us insight and courage to avoid those things that dirty our feet and taint our souls, and the wisdom and humility allow the Spirit of Jesus to wash us clean. Amen.
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