Note: All Scripture quotations found in this article are from the text of the Authorized King James Version of the Bible.
This article will explain why "foot washing" is not a Church Ordinance, rather an example that we should follow the Lord Jesus Christ in. The chapter that deals with this subject is John 13.
John 13:4 "He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean."
Note: The unclean one is Judas Iscariot, the Son of Perdition (More on this in my article "The Antichrist").
In verse 7, Jesus says "What I do thou knowest not now". Peter knew what He was doing and objected to it because he felt that Jesus, His Lord should not be washing his dirty feet. Jesus clarifies in verse 7 that the literal foot washing is not what he wants them to follow. Not one verse in the whole passage ever says that foot washing is a Church Ordinance. The only Church Ordinances are water baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Look at verse 7 again. Jesus says, "But thou shalt know hereafter". Jesus was saying that He was doing this as an example to show humbleness. Keep in mind that foot washing then was a slave's job. Jesus, the King of Kings humble himself enough to perform the task of a slave. We need to follow His example. Just days before in Matthew 20:26-27, Jesus was teaching the disciples about being humble.
Matthew 20:26 "But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:"
Pride is a nasty sin that most Americans are ate up with. The American media promotes things like self-esteem, self-glory, self-love, self-fulfillment and self-image. If one holds pride in their heart, how can they ever humble themselves to see their self as a sinner in need of a Saviour? As Christians, we should put God first, others second and ourselves last. We cannot do that if we are caught up on self.
Men and women today are so prideful that they refuse to obey God's word because they hate authority. Instead, they would rather obey the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), whether directly (knowing) or indirectly (without knowing). To the Born Again Christian, this life is not about your next paycheck or YOUR happiness. This life is about doing things that glorify Jesus Christ. It takes humbleness to accept that truth.
Revelation 4:11 "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
Pride is also the sin that made Lucifer the Cherub rebel against God. He wanted to exalt his throne and be like God according to Isaiah 14:12-14, but instead in next verse shows his future, eternal destination.
Isaiah 14:15 "Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit."
The water in John 13 is symbolizing the word of God that cleans us by showing us salvation and then guiding our way after we are saved.
John 15:3 "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."
Our sins are completely forgiven at Calvary and our soul is saved, but as Christians we still need to ask for forgiveness to keep a good fellowship with God (1 John 1:3-10). Christ died for us, so we ought to love and serve Him. Repent of sins, read the Bible, pray without ceasing, do good works, witness and etc. Those are all good things that bring us closer to God, but they do not save us or keep us saved.
In conclusion, verses 15-17 in John 13 verifies once again that the foot washing was done for an "example", not a Church Ordinance. It had nothing to do with washing feet, rather ministering God's word to each other for daily cleansing of sin for our fellowship with the Lord (Acts 20:28, John 21:15-16, Eph. 5:26, Ps. 119:9).
John 13:15 "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."