A few days before Pentecost, Christ washed His disciples’ feet. Pentecost celebrated bringing in the harvest. Christ modeled how the apostles were to bring others into the kingdom of God through forgiveness.
Christ told Peter, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.(1) His disciples knew what He was speaking of.
In front of the temple mount in Jerusalem are excavated ritual baths. The entrance stairs to one such bath is pictured above. All worshippers in Christ’s time would have used these baths before entering the Temple. They had to be as ritually pure as possible before God.
After the bath, the worshippers walked up the bedrock Temple entrance steps. On that short walk, their feet would become somewhat dirty again.
This Pentecost celebration Jesus would not make it to the temple with his disciples. He was crucified within twenty-four hours of this supper. By washing their feet now, Jesus was truly purifying them for the day they would enter God’s heavenly kingdom to eat with Him again.
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:15-16
In scripture dirt often typifies sin.(2) Earlier in His ministry, the Pharisee Simon invited Jesus to a dinner. A sinful woman heard Jesus was there. She came to the dinner, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, kissed his feet, dried them with her hair and perfumed them. Simon questioned Jesus and Jesus replied:
“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:44-50
In exchange for her display of faith, Christ forgave her. He cleansed her of her sins. Forgiveness cleanses. Forgiveness allows us to enter eternal life truly pure.
Jesus used the Pentecost festival that celebrates bringing in the wheat harvest to teach the apostles they are to bring souls into God’s kingdom. He taught them that forgiveness brings souls into the kingdom.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:14-15
We need to cleanse others, forgive them their sins. Christ wants us to harvest souls. We need to remember what Christ said at Simon’s dinner. “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little… Your sins are forgiven. …Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
The apostles brought thousands into the Kingdom after they received the Holy Spirit. We need to humbly do also for millions and billions, one by one or in groups as the Spirit guides us. You and I can do this with the power of the Holy Spirit inside us.
Forgiveness is essential to eternal life. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Believe in Christ and harvest today’s crop as Christ prepared His disciples to do in their day.
Jesus told His disciples: “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:35-38
Image. Personal photo of excavated ritual bath in front of the Hulda gates in the south wall of the temple mount in Jerusalem.
(1) John 13:10 All scripture references are from NIV (R)
(2) Isaiah 64:6