Cleaning the Feet of Jesus

By Guy Cramer

Rev. John M. Sweigart pointed out a flaw in paper #X97 The Paradise Paradox. The original Greek for John 20:17 suggests that Mary Magdalene was already touching Jesus.

It is highly recommended that you read #X97 before continuing. A link is provided at the end of that paper to bring you back here.

Jesus asked Mary Magdalene, ..."Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to My Father..." John 20:17 KNJV

Upon inspection of other passages, I discovered that Rev. Sweigart is correct.

Matthew 28:1 …Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
Matthew 28:5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He has risen as He said…"
Matthew 28:9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

It has been pointed out that Mary was present during the preparation of the body of Jesus, so according to Jewish Law she could be unclean for seven days and anything she touched would also be unclean.

Did the women seizing the feet of Jesus after he was resurrected make Him unclean?

Prior to the crucifixion, Jesus washed His disciples feet:
John 13:5-10 …He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet…
Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are you washing my feet?"
Jesus answered him. "What I am doing now you do not understand now, but you will know after this."
Peter said to Him, "Lord not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"
Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean…"

Jesus is saying that even though the feet may now be unclean the person is still wholly clean if they wash just their feet? If this is the case, then by allowing the Women to seize his feet he would still remain clean as long as they touched no other part of his body. This might be what Jesus is referring to when he asks Mary Magdalene:

..."Do not cling to me for I have not yet ascended to My Father..." John 20:17

However, Jesus now needs to have his feet washed.

In Luke 24:1-35 We read of the resurrected Jesus joining two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. At this point, the two disciples did not know that this was Jesus they were talking with.

The two men in Luke 24:29 invited Jesus to stay with them.

Luke 24:30-31 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them.
Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and he vanished from their sight.

Many have assumed here that the two disciples noticed the nail marks in His hands when he broke the bread and this is how they recognized Jesus.

But, something else happened here. Notice the words 'Now it came to pass,' Between the time, where they invite Jesus in and when He sat at the table, something else happened. Something so common that the author doesn't even mention what it is.

Prior to the crucifixion, in Luke 7:36-50, we read of a Pharisee who asked Jesus to eat with him. Jesus arrives and a woman begins to wash his feet. This was common practice of providing water for the guest to clean their feet or having a servant clean the feet of a guest. The Pharisee questions why Jesus would allow a sinful woman to clean His feet, But Jesus rebukes the Pharisee:

Luke 7:44 "…I entered your house; you gave Me no water for my feet, but she has washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

Jesus states in Matthew 10:14 "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of Judgment than for that city.

When Jesus says "shake off the dust from your feet." He is making reference to the feet not being washed. In a house where you are received properly, water would be supplied or they would have a servant wash your feet.

Interestingly, Jesus mentions Sodom and Gomorrah in this same passage.

Abraham says to the three visitors in;
Genesis 18:4 , "Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree."

Lot receives two of Abraham's three angelic visitors in Sodom:
Genesis 19:2 And he (Lot) said, "Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant's house and spend the night and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way…"

As we can see washing the feet of a visitor was common even back in the times of Genesis. Therefore, we can assume that the two men in Luke 24:29 who invited Jesus to stay with them, supplied water for Him to wash His feet.

This meeting between the two men and Jesus took place immediately after Mary Magdalene had touched his feet. Mark 16:12 states that Jesus appeared to these two in a different form from the one He took when He appeared to the two Mary's just prior to this.

As this topic on the surface may seem trivial, it turns out to be anything but;

  • Mary Magdalene was present when the body of Jesus was being prepared.
    Matthew 27:61, Mark 15:47, Luke 23:55.

  • According to Numbers 19:11 she will be unclean for seven days.

  • Numbers 19:22 'Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean...'

  • In Matthew 28:9 She touches the feet of Jesus

  • In John 20:17 Jesus asks her ..."Do not cling to (lay hold of) me for I have not yet ascended to My Father..."

  • Prior to all these events in John 13:10 Jesus says, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean,..."

  • In Luke 24:29 the two men invited Jesus to stay with them. It can be assumed from passages such as Luke 7:36-50 and Matthew 10:14 that Jesus washed His feet at this point.

  • In Mark 16:12 We find out that Luke 24:29 takes place directly after Mary touches the feet of Jesus.

  • Being completely clean, Jesus could now have the disciples touch his hands and feet without causing them to be unclean.

  • Within the hour (Luke 24:33) the two men went and told the 11 Disciples what had happened, when Jesus appears in the room

  • In the room, Jesus challenges the 11 Disciples to touch him.
    Luke 24:38-39 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?
    "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

    The complexity of the Scriptures can be awesome.
    It reminds us of the One who inspired it.

    Special Thanks to Rev. John M. Sweigart Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Dover, Arkansas, for pointing out the discrepancy in #X97.

    This paper is Part 2 of 3
    To goto Part 3 click here: The Ascension, Resurrection, Flesh and Bone

    © Copyright 1998, Trinity Consulting, All Rights Reserved.

    For more papers on this and other related subjects;
    Go back to the Main Page (XWALK.CA)

    Presented by Trinity Consulting