When Abraham, the father of nations, had the Lord appear before him, he saw three men standing near him. He immediately offered to bring water so the visitors could wash their feet (Genesis 18:2-4), a gesture of hospitality in the ancient world, where the feet and sandals of travelers would become dusty and dirty from walking on unpaved roads.
When John the Baptizer, whose father was the priest, Zechariah, appeared in the wilderness, he proclaimed he was unworthy to untie the straps of the sandals of Jesus (John 1:27) – an act enslaved people typically performed for their masters. With this proclamation, John conveyed his humility and servitude to the Father Almighty’s son and implied he was unworthy even to be a slave to Jesus.
When Jesus, the Son of the Almighty Father, prepared his disciples on the last night before his death, he washed his followers’ feet (John 13:1-17). He did this to show the servant-leadership that he expects of his followers. Jesus was making a statement and modeling that he served his followers instead of vice versa.
If a host failed to provide this simple accommodation of cleansing a guest’s feet, it was perceived as unfriendly and possibly hostile. A visitor could express their displeasure by shaking off the dust from their feet. James E. Talmage, a father of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, opined, “to ceremoniously shake the dust from one’s feet as a testimony against another was understood by the Jews to symbolize a cessation of fellowship and a renunciation of all responsibility for the consequences that might follow.”
When God the Father’s Son sent his disciples into the mission field, he prepared them for the possibility of being unwelcome or having their words rejected. Following the culture’s practice, Jesus instructs them to shake off the dust from their feet and leave that house or town (Matthew 10:14). This message of hospitality is the Gospel message this coming Sunday.
Although we do not expect to receive offers of foot washing when we visit homes today, we nevertheless hope to accept other acts of hospitality. We trust that you will find no need to shake the dust from your feet this Sunday, June 18, when you join us for worship at 8:00 AM (outdoor spoken liturgy, weather permitting), 10:15 AM (traditional liturgy), and 6:00 PM (contemporary). We invite you to bring your fathers to worship on Father’s Day. And if you haven’t worshiped in a while, join us!
Please know you still have the proper footing to stand tall with us!