Intentional Hands – edited this time

I read John 13: 1-20 today during a meeting. This is when Jesus washes the feet of his followers. I struggled to disengage mentally from my culture of tennis shoes and ODOT in order to visualize a world of sandals and dusty roads.

I found myself thinking about hand washing. This is something I can relate to, especially in March. Everywhere we are washing, rewashing while we sing the alphabet and applying lots of hand sanitizer every time we are out.

Washing someones hands or feet can be a great reminder of  humility & serving one another. It teaches me to put less emphasis on my desires, my needs, my perspective, my agenda and my goals. The focus becomes others.

Verses about others in the Bible discussing washing or actually washing feet to exemplify humility, honor or hospitality: 1 Timothy 5:10, 1 Samuel 25:41, Judges 19:31 (would not recommend this story for kids), Luke 7:44, Genesis 24:32

Washing goes even deeper in the Bible as symbol of what Jesus death will do for our sin forever. Ritual washing was a big part of Jewish tradition in the tabernacle and temple. Exodus 30:17-21 – Aaron and his sons or priests cannot come before the altar without washing their hands and feet in a specific bronze laver. Being not washed separates them from God. It keeps them unclean and unable to enter his presence. They have to go through this washing every time so they will not die in God’s presence. It is called a “perpetual state” for them. Their washing is not once and complete – the washing done by the blood of Jesus is once and complete. He says in John 13: 8 “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” He was speaking of a deeper washing.

Verses about washing of priests and others as means to cleanse from sin: 1 Kings 7, leviticus 8:21, Job 29:6, Exodus 29:17, Psalm 108:9, Psalm 60:8  – some of these are kind of gross so preview before reading with your family. Our kids liked the gross ones – just saying

Family Activities: wash and pray over each family members hands. Pray that they will know that Jesus washes them clean, that their work will be pleasing to Him and they will seek to use their hands for good in this world. You can even anoint their hands with oil for added emphasis of them being called by God to serve him in this world.

For younger kids, memorize Psalm 51:10 together by saying it every time you wash hands or use hand sanitizer. You can even post it in your bathroom by writing it on the mirror with sharpie markers – they wash off mirrors with water. Let your little one have fun writing on the mirror. Caveat – you may need to instruct them it is only for the mirror right now and not a license to write on walls whenever they want.

Lent Service Project: Vista partners with Better Way ministries in Columbus. They are always in need of hygiene products for the people to whom they minister. Details can be found on the vista website under Local Impact. This is a great concrete way to tie Jesus washing of us to our prayers for others to know the freedom of being washed in Him.

Digging Deeper – Fascinating teachings that explain the Tabernacle  and its furnishings pointing to Christ’s death can be found in most commentaries, student Bibles or by major Christian authors and speakers. If your family likes history and deeper bible study, you might consider studying it together. A 12 lesson study with activities can be found at Digging Deeper ministries, or an intro to the tabernacle for younger kids at The Tabernacle Place. There is some great stuff on youtube or godtube as well. This was one of my favorite women’s bible studies from Beth Moore and one of the coolest Sunday school lessons I remember from the elementary grades.


  1. There is so much here! One could spend months gleaning lessons from this complex topic. Interesting though just this morning I was researching a bit more on what it means to serve others. Over the years we have as a family washed each other’s feet and practiced other various activities (usually during the Lent season) to try to teach this concept. I have often felt that we have come short as parents to help our children understand the importance of serving, probably because we as the parents lacked a clear understanding ourselves! This morning I ran across a video testimony of a man who has committed his life to serving. It is really a moving story and I tend to learn much from watching and listening to others who are further along in an area than myself. You can listen to it on youtube: http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/around-the-world/heart-of-a-servant/