“Jesus replied, ‘A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean.'” (John 13:10 NLT)
Sometimes, chickens leave behind more than eggs and meat.
My maternal grandmother-a residence of Vance for many years-had a dozen or so chickens wandering around her yard at any given moment. At night, she enclosed them in a small pen, complete with a coop my grandfather constructed for her. There, they slept, laid eggs, and made fertilizer. But it wasn’t the only place they left things behind.
Being country boys, 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 the chickens scratched around in. Since we didn’t always wear shoes during the summer months-and even if we did-our grandmother would warn us before we placed one foot on the backdoor steps: “Mind you don’t bring any chicken mess into this house on your shoes.”
Chickens, it appeared, laid more than eggs, and my grandmother didn’t want their leftovers or left behinds in her house or on her porch. If we discovered this unwanted material on our shoes, we paused to scrape it off on the dirt or on a grassy patch. Doing so became such a habit that eventually our grandmother didn’t have to remind us.
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. And since the main form of travel was by foot, people’s feet stayed dirty. When entering a house, it was common for the owner-or his slave if he had one-to wash a guest’s feet. He didn’t, however, wash the entire person. If the person needed a full bath, they could tend to that themselves.
Jesus’ meaning, however, goes deeper. The full bath happens when I trust Christ as my Savior. 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 get my feet messy with unwanted things. Sinful influences and smelly temptations wander around the world.
The news isn’t all bad though. Jesus says I just need to wash my feet. Through the spiritual disciplines of prayer, biblical meditation, and confession, 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.
Learn to mind what the chickens of this world leave behind-and avoid it.
Martin Wiles Hodges, South Carolina, USA