How to Morph the Washing of Feet into the Buffing of Shoes
From This ……………… To This
The washing of feet – It is stupendously amazing how today’s Emerging Church preachers have perfected the art of morphing biblical narratives into stories that never intended to convey what they themselves ardently affirm to communicate. But don’t let that surprise you because there is always a method in their madness.
To fill in the blank canvas portrayed in the preceding paragraph, we need to examine the paintbrush and colours Stephan Joubert used to repaint a picture of the scene before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come for Him to depart out of this world unto the Father and humbly stooped down to wash the feet of his twelve disciples (John 13).
The very first stroke of Joubert’s paintbrush is a picture of his dear friend, Pine Pienaar, a former Captain and fighter pilot in the SADF whom he describes as a man who is wilder than the Kruger National Park wild animal resort. Pine’s bosom buddy, Johnny Walker, says Joubert, was too slow for him because he preferred to run. His own next of kin said Pine was so completely lost that not even Jesus was able to find him. And then it happened, Jesus found Pine and he was converted to Christianity. One of the first chores Pine received from God was to wash Maria’s feet.
The only Maria (Mary) Pine Pienaar knew was Maria Matsekhe of Mamelodi, his domestic worker at the time. At first, he thought it was the devil who spoke to him because it was unthinkable for someone who grew up in an Afrikaans home during the Apartheid era to wash a black person’s feet. When he heard it a third time, he realized it was time to act accordingly. He called Maria, asked her to take off her shoes and promptly washed her feet.
Two days later Maria invited Pine Pienaar to preach in the Mamelodi Church. Pine was rather bemused and wanted to know why he was invited to preach there. Maria explained that she suffered excruciating pains in her legs and could hardly walk for months on end but was able to walk and dance again after Pine washed her feet.
Stephan Joubert relates how this incident had a political upshot in South Africa when he wrote about it in an article in Beeld some years ago. Adriaan Vlok, the minister of law and order during the latter years of South Africa’s Apartheid rule, read Joubert’s article and was so impressed with his account of Pine’s deed of humble service and sacrifice that he decided to wash Frank Chikane’s feet as a gesture of apology and reconciliation. Quartz Africa reported the matter on 7th October 2015.
One of the most interesting features of the article is the intentionally ironic question, “Good Works?” preceding the heading “Washing past victims’ feet won’t redeem this former Apartheid leader.” I have no idea whether the journalist who wrote the article was a redeemed Christian who trusted Jesus for his salvation. Nonetheless, whether saved or not, he had a pretty good idea that the washing of dirty feet cannot possibly redeem anyone of their sins. Assuming he was not saved, Jesus’ commendation of an unsaved person of the world, comes into play.
As you may recall, He said,
“And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (Luke 16:8).
The journalist knows that a ritual like the washing of dirty feet cannot redeem sinners of their sins. If this is so, which, of course, it is, then we must ask whether the washing of feet can heal physical diseases. A careful analysis shows that there are 24 recorded instances of healing, either by Jesus Christ or some of his apostles in the New Testament, and not even one of them includes the washing of feet. Please bear this in mind while we discuss the true meaning of Jesus Christ’s washing of his disciples’ feet in John 13.
Jesus Washes his Disciples Feet
The apostle John’s account of Jesus washing his twelve disciples’ feet is arguably the most mimicked act of servitude and sacrifice worldwide. Sadly, it has lost its original purpose introduced by Jesus of Nazareth and has become a superficial ritual of service to mankind, especially the downtrodden, the marginalized, and the poor regardless of whatever religious persuasion they belong to. Pope Francis is a regular feet-washer of prisoners among whom are Muslims, Hindus, Roman Catholics, and Muslim refugees.
To better understand the spiritual content without undermining the element of service of the washing of feet, we need to remind ourselves of the importance of signs in Jewish culture. Paul makes the idiosyncrasy clear in 1 Corinthians 1:22, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.” Foot-washing was a daily necessity in the dusty desert-like Middle Eastern countries. People wore sandals without socks causing their feet to become dirty very quickly on the dusty roads. Hosts usually hired or employed servants to wash their guests’ feet as a token of honor and respect; it was a breach of hospitality not to provide for it (1 Samuel 25:41; Luke 7:40-50; 1 Timothy 5:10). Wives often washed their husband’s feet and children their patents feet.
Jesus used this custom to bring home a spiritual lesson to his disciples. The apostle Peter, a Jew, was thoroughly familiar with the token of servanthood in the washing of feet but had no inkling of the new meaning Jesus had given it when he stooped down to wash his feet. Although Jesus partially explained the meaning of feet washing to his disciples in accordance with Jewish custom, they could not have understood it in terms of the new spiritual meaning He attached to it because the Holy Spirit (Comforter and Teacher) had not yet been poured out. That could only have taken place after Jesus had been crucified, buried and risen from the dead. It also explains why Jesus told Peter “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” (John 13:7). Peter and the other disciples could only have understood Jesus’ command to be a servant like unto Himself when they had been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Not only was He presenting his disciples with a new meaning of feet-washing but also a deeper meaning of the word “servant.” The word “doulos” is primarily used for “servant” and appears once in the feet-washing episode. (John 13:16). However, a mere two chapters later Jesus said that “Henceforth I call you not servants (doulos); for the servant (doulos) knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:15).
He emphatically made a distinction between the usual run of the mill application of being a servant in the secular world and his own new usage thereof. This is very important because it proves beyond any doubt that the feet-washing in John 13 cannot be applied to unbelievers and neither can it benefit them. He also washed Judas’ feet, but its true spiritual meaning could not benefit him, for he had not been converted to Christ like the rest of Jesus’ apostles. In fact, when Jesus washed his feet, Satan had already taken possession of him and put it into his heart to betray Jesus. (John 13: 2). Therefore, it is a farce and nothing else than a hypocritical show of false humility to go around washing every Tom, Dick and Harry’s feet of every religious persuasion, let alone to go around and buff one another’s shoes. It only re-enforces the Judas-nature in them to betray Jesus.
For Whom is the Lesson of Feet Washing Intended and for What Reason?
Pope Francis and Stephan Joubert said that the literal act of feet-washing is a token of service and sacrifice to mankind. Is it? The incident in Acts 6 tells us where feet-washing (service and sacrifice) truly belongs and what place it must assume in ministering to others. The Grecians confronted the Hebrews for their neglect of their widows in their daily ministering to them. The word “ministering” (“diakonia”) is the same word Jesus used when He said, “But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28).
The duty of the daily ministering to the needy belongs to the church (the body of Christ) with the focus on believers within the church (body of Christ), and not the unbelievers who have no part with Christ’s body. There are two kinds of ministering mentioned in Acts 6. The one relates to service to the needy within the church and the other the ministering of the Word of God to all mankind unto salvation to them that believe. We find the latter ministry in Acts 6:2. Sound doctrine in the proclamation of the Word of God and prayer was to the twelve of prime importance; they fully understood the impact of Jesus’ words “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
The feet-washing scene in the upper room reflects the ministry of preaching the Word of God concerning Christ laying down his life for all mankind (Luke 19:10). This explains why Jesus also washed Judas’ feet; He lay down his life for him as well. If there had been one who needed to be washed and cleansed from head to toe and not only his feet, it was Judas Iscariot and not Peter or any of the other disciples. However, he rejected the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:4-5) and forfeited eternal life.
Although Jesus washed Judas’ feet it did not benefit him. Only the eleven who had already been washed and cleansed of their sins benefitted from it. He did not wash the feet of his redeemed disciples to set an example in serving mankind at large, as Stepan Joubert and Pope Francis said in their respective videos. Jesus clearly said that his act of humility in washing their feet was to teach them that they too should wash one another’s feet (John 13:14). Have you noticed his words “one another’s feet?” There can be no denial that He had believers in mind when He commanded his disciples to wash one another’s feet and not unbelievers.
For what reason then did He command his redeemed disciples to wash one another’s feet? There is no evidence in Scripture that the disciples literally washed one another’s feet. Jesus provided the spiritual meaning when He said, “Anyone who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, and is completely clean. And you [My disciples] are clean, but not all of you.” (John 13:10). The dust and dirt that clung to the sandalled feet of road travelers are symbolic of the sins and transgressions redeemed Christians commit in their thoughts and deeds in their daily walk with the Lord. Consider his wonderful words in John’s first epistle and in Hebrews,
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1John 1:8-2:2).
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having [had] our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22).
Jesus’ words “Anyone who has bathed [his body] needs only to wash his feet, and is completely clean,” echoes to perfection the words in Hebrews, “ . . . having [had] our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” We may safely say that the washing of one another’s feet has everything to do with sanctification. The question we need to ask, is how do we sanctify one another by the example in the washing of feet?
How Do We Wash One Another’s Feet?
Sound doctrine in the Word of God is the means to wash one another’s feet. (Ephesians 5:24-26). Paul washed Peter’s feet when he transgressed the gospel of faith in resorting back to the Law when he refused to eat with Gentiles. This is how Paul did it:
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? (Galatians 2:11-14).
Any form of erroneous doctrine not only pollutes the perpetrator with sin, in this case, Peter, but also those who hold him in high esteem. Hence Barnabas’ and many other Jews’ defection. By Peter’s and Barnabas’ actions, they were in effect teaching that there were two bodies of Christ, Jewish, and Gentile. The ripple effect it caused could have had dire consequences for the Gospel of God. Accordingly, Paul rebuked Peter face to face before all the dissenters. Peter needed his polluted feet (“feet” being emblematic of following Jesus) to be washed and Paul, yet still much younger in his office as an apostle at the time, was the one who did it.
Contrary to the command in Scripture to “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; [and to] continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1 Timothy 4:16), the emerging church is stooping down on its knees to wash the feet (or is it to buff the Gucci shoes) of many Gospel-betrayers who have created the mantra, “Doctrine divides, service unites.” It presents, they claim, an opportunity for “Christians” of whatever church or religious persuasion to come together as one and to share in the common goals of service to the poor and the marginalized, of witness to peace and justice, and of building the city of God, or ushering in the Kingdom of God.
Gibbs and Bolger comment in their pro-Emergent book Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures.[i]
Rooted in the work of N. T. Wright, emerging churches embrace the gospel of the kingdom as revealed in Mark 1:15-16. At the outset of the Gospel narrative, the good news was not that Jesus was to die on the cross to forgive sins but that God had returned and all were invited to participate with him in this new way of life, in this redemption of the world. It is this gospel that the emerging church seeks to recover. As one [Emerging Church] leader confided privately, “We have totally reprogrammed ourselves to recognize the good news as a means to an end–that the kingdom of God is here. We try to live into that reality and hope. We don’t dismiss the cross; it is still a central part. But the good news is not that he died but that the kingdom has come.”
Stephan Joubert once said:
The church was not directly within Jesus’ scope. He came to announce Cod’s kingdom Cod’s new world where Shalom, heavenly peace, reigns. The church is the most important sign of God’s kingdom, but church is not a goal in itself. The church always stands in service of the kingdom. It is subordinated to the kingdom. According to Jesus, access to the kingdom of Cod happens through metanoia, or the way we translate it” repentance’* (Mark 1:15). Today, repentance is often downscaled to moral behaviour adjustments.
However, to Jesus metanoia is not a moral course alteration that leads to two different worlds – one home to sinners, and another one way over there where the holy ones congregate. Metanoia means think and live radically different – every day, everywhere, and amongst everyone – in the light of God’s new reign that has already come.
Don’t get me wrong – I believe John 14:6 with my whole heart: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the only One! But I also know that people who don’t believe this will probably never be convinced if I keep on providing them with unintelligible answers to even stranger questions. Their question to me/us would probably be something like: “Show me the money! Show me in your own life what it menas (sic) to follow Jesus, then we could probably have a conversation!
“It’s not so much our beliefs [belief that Jesus is the only Way, Truth and Life], but our integrity in terms of following Jesus in the smallest details of our lives through service, sacrifice, humility and generosity that will provide intelligible answers to the right questions here in our day.”
If the church was not directly in Jesus’ scope He would have disobeyed, betrayed and fumbled his Father’s mission for Him to earth which was to seek and to save the lost. Had He not come first and foremost to seek and save the lost his mystery body comprising of believing Jews and Gentiles would have been non-existent, and, therefore, no one around to populate his foretold Millennial Kingdom on earth.
One can only make such an outrageous statement when you espouse the doctrine of Universalism and Panentheism. Joubert has this odd idea that when you give the living dead a cup of cold water, a slice of bread, a meal or a quid or more, they (the living dead) immediately become a friend of Jesus. His equally outrageous words, “Don’t get me wrong – I believe John 14:6 with my whole heart: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is the only One! But I also know that people who don’t believe this will probably never be convinced if I keep on providing them with unintelligible answers to even stranger questions. Their question to me/us would probably be something like: “Show me the money! Show me in your own life what it means to follow Jesus, then we could probably have a conversation,” wickedly ridicules the work of the Holy Spirit.
In effect, he suggests that the Holy Spirit cannot convince lost sinners that Jesus is God the Messiah and that the emergent church’s good works will instead settle the matter. His statement is heavily compounded with hypocrisy. You cannot affirm from your heart that you wholeheartedly believe John 14:6 but happily set it aside because unbelievers reject its eternal veracity and instead demand of you to show them the money and what it means to follow Jesus.
“So, faith comes from hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the [preaching of the] message concerning Christ” (Romans 10:23) and NOT by showing unbelievers your good works. If Stephan Joubert was able to believe with his whole heart that Jesus Christ is the only Way, the Truth and the Life, why does he paint unbelievers as a bunch of unintelligent critters for whom the truth in John14:6 is unintelligible. Is Joubert more intelligent than the rest of lost mankind? Jesus did not place a high priority on intelligence; He placed it on childlikeness: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. (Luke 18:17).
Joubert is merely playing out Paul’s words in first Timothy:
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
He is merely buffing the shoes of unbelievers and he WILL have to give an account to God at the day of judgment.
Lennie’s Shiny Shoes
In vogue with the Emerging Church’s clarion of “Doctrine divides, service unites,” Stephan Joubert tells a little story about his dear friend, Leonard Sweet, toward the end of his sermon he delivered on 14th April 2019 at the Mosaïek Church in Fairland, Johannesburg.
A week or so ago I visited my American friend, Leonard Sweet, and he told me, before he had to speak at a venue somewhere, before he stepped onto the podium, one of the preachers approached him, and the next moment the man went on his knees, took out his handkerchief and while he prayed for Leonard Sweet he started to wipe and clean his shoes. He said that moment was for him greater than what he was about to say, this man, this preacher who went on his knees for just a wee moment, just for a moment wiping his shoes. How shall I know what you and I must do? The Lord will show you but the one thing I know is that you and I have Jesus as our example. Let us go and do what Jesus taught us; let us go and serve; let us go and wash feet; let us go and live with eternity in our hearts; let us know that we have seen God again today, Amen. (Afrikaans readers can watch the video on YouTube)
The occult Theosophist who was led and inspired by the demon Djwal Khul would probably have done much better than Joubert in describing Jesus as an example of service we need to follow.
In due time, Christ came and gave out to the world (mainly through His disciples) two major truths: the fact of the existence of the human soul and, secondly, the system of service (this phrase is used advisedly) as a mode of establishing right human relations—to God and to one’s fellowmen. He told men that they were all the Sons of God in the same sense that He was; He told them in many symbolic ways who and what He was and assured them that they could do even greater things than He had done, because they were divine as He was. These greater things, humanity has already accomplished upon the physical plane and in its control of nature, as Christ knew men would, because He knew the workings of the Law of Evolution. He taught them that service was the key to the life of liberation, teaching them the technique of service through His own life as He went  about doing good, healing the sick, as well as preaching and teaching the things of the Kingdom of God and feeding the hungry, both physically and spiritually. He made the life of everyday a divine sphere of spiritual livingness, thus emphasizing the teaching of the Buddha, through desiring nothing for the separated self. Thus the Christ taught, loved, and lived, carrying forward the great continuity of revelation and of hierarchical teaching; then He entered for us within the veil, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps (1 Pet. II.21)—follow Him in His belief in divinity, in His service and inability to penetrate into that area of consciousness and that field of activity which we call the true Church of Christ, the spiritual (at present invisible) Hierarchy of our planet, the true Kingdom of God. The veil that hides that real church from us is now in process of disappearing and Christ is on the verge of reappearing.[ii]
Even the most obtrusive enemies of God know how to follow the example of Christ in the fostering of a false gospel (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). Stephan Joubert ought to know what God wants him, you and me to do. He made his will for his true followers so clear that even a child can understand it. Listen again to what He commanded us to do, Mr. Leonard-Sweet’s-Shoe-Polishing Follower.
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you I, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:16-20)
That’s clear enough, isn’t it? He is talking about doctrine, biblical doctrine, Godly doctrine. And how is this teaching of God’s doctrine to be accomplished – through the buffing of someone else’s Gucci shoes? You must be kidding. This is what God says:
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
Now, let’s examine the buffing of Sweet’s shoes in the light of the above passage and Christ’s command to wash one another’s feet. If the preacher or pastor who wiped his shoes is truly saved, it must have been Jesus in him who wiped Leonard Sweet’s shoes. In that case, the scenario in the upper room before Christ’s crucifixion would have been something like the following.
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he took it, and began to buff the disciples’ shoes, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Leonard Sweet: and Leonard saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wipe my shoes? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Leonard saith unto him, Thou shalt never wipe my shoes. Jesus answered him, If I wipe not thy shoes, thou hast no part with me. Leonard Sweet saith unto him, Lord, not my shoes only, but clean also my undergarment, my outer tunic, my belt, my shirt, my trousers, and my cloak. Jesus saith to him, He that is already clothed with clean garments needs nothing more save to have his shoes or boots to be wiped clean: (Sweet chapter 13 verses 4-10).
I sincerely doubt that the real Jesus of the Bible would wipe Leonard Sweet’s shoes. What I do know is that He has already tried many times via the warnings, exhortations, and rebukes of Bible-believing Christians to wash the filth and the dirt of false doctrine, heresies, lies, and deceit from his feet (and perhaps even his entire body). Sadly, Leonard Sweet allows his feet to remain unwashed (and perhaps even his entire body) while he relishes himself in the limelight of the Emergent Church and its emissaries, including Stephan Joubert and the Mosaïek Church in Fairland, Randburg. I recommend you read Sandy Simpson’s article on Leonard Sweet’s heresies here.
[i] Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005) 54.