The Bible, CG7, and Footwashing

A Shmura Matzo (Unleavened Bread is Used for Passover)


In last year’s Bible Advocate, CG7-Denver had the following:

Christian Ordinances
Church of God (Seventh Day) practices foot washing as a part of its annual Lord’s Supper, open to all those who’ve been baptized into Jesus Christ. That service will take place this year in every congregation on Sunday evening, April 17, after sunset. By the Hebrew calendar, this is the anniversary of the evening of the Last (Passover) Supper when Jesus distributed unleavened bread and fruit of the vine among His disciples as emblems of His soon-to-be-broken body and soon-to-be-shed blood. We find much value in observing communion at this common time and in the same season Jesus our Lord began it.

Christ prescribed two ordinances that confirm faith in Him: 1) Water baptism, preceded by a confession of faith in Christ and repentance, represents the believer’s initial union with Christ by depicting death to sin, burial by immersion in water, and rising to a Spirit-controlled life; and 2) Lord’s Supper, a memorial to Christ’s atoning death. Believers commemorate Christ’s death by eating the bread of communion and drinking from its cup, symbols of His broken body and shed blood, thus demonstrating fellowship with our Savior until He returns. It is accompanied by the washing of feet. We observe this Supper annually in the season it was instituted and are charitable toward those who observe it at other times.
— CoG7 Statement of Faith, Doctrine #6

The Bible shows that Jesus initiated that practice which many now overlook:

And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded (John 13:2-5).

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you … 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:12-15,17).

23… If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:23-24)

While most who profess Christ today do not realize it, early Christians followed Jesus’ example and practiced footwashing (as well as Passover, although CG7 tends to prefer the term Lord’s Supper, instead of Passover, though Passover is the more frequently used biblical term).

Yes, real Christians follow the teachings and practices of Jesus and observe Passover as He did.

Most Who Profess Christ Do Not Practice It

Although many Catholic and Orthodox saints encouraged footwashing, the members of those churches generally do not do it (nor do most Protestants).

And while the Roman Catholic pontiff (and sometimes Roman bishops) performs this ceremony once per year, I am unaware of any others within Roman Catholicism that perform this ceremony–and when it is done, it is done as a memorial and is done on the annual night that the Romans feel was the night of Jesus’ last Passover. This brings up two questions:

1) Since Jesus commanded His disciples to do this, why do Protestant leaders generally not teach or do this?
2) If the Roman Church recognizes that this is an annual event done on Passover (which they call Maundy Thursday), why do they and others observe the other steps of their version of the Passover (which they now generally refer to as communion) every week or even every day?

An answer proposed to the first question, given by Herbert Armstrong, was:

Many today do not want to humiliate themselves by washing the feet of their church brethren. Some argue that Jesus commanded only the disciples to wash one another’s feet. But they will admit it was a command to them. Very well; turn to Matthew 28:19, 20:

“Go ye therefore,” Jesus said to these same disciples, “and teach all nations, baptizing them . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” So they were to teach US to observe all things whatsoever He commanded them. Surely God is no respecter of persons (Armstrong HW. How Often Should We Partake of the Lord’s Supper? 1974).

I have no clear answer to the second question about why Rome does one part of the Jesus’ last Passover annually, but other portions weekly (or more often). I suspect that the heretic Justin Martyr probably had something to do with Rome’s acceptance of a weekly Sunday “Passover” (as he is the first one to clearly refer to a Sunday worship service which included a “eucharist” ceremony), but I also suspect that he did not care for the idea of foot-washing.

Some Historical Observations

Without citing the well known early Catholic & Orthodox writers here (they are mentioned and quoted in the article Passover and the Early Church), notice the following statements about the history of footwashing:

The history of feetwashing is tantalizingly elusive…There are passing references to this rite in the first centuries. Continued for many years in the Eastern Church, feet washing eventually fell out of favour in the West. But it was carried out long enough to be introduced among the earliest Celtic Christians…in the Stowe Missal. The Celt’s adherence to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures seems to have led him to follow the procedures of the upper room exactly. For in that service Christ washed the feet of his disciples before he distributed the bread and the wine to his followers (Hardinge, Leslie. The Celtic Church in Britain. Teach Services, Brushton (NY) 2000, pp. 111,116).

Some Waldenses in the late Middle Ages also observed feetwashing:

The Waldenses who are acknowledged to have come the closest to the purity of the faith and practice of the doctrines of Christ, held feet washing as an ordinance of the church. (St John HA. Our Banquet to Nourish Pure Thought Life. Published by Kessinger Publishing, 2003, p. 97)

It may also be of interest to note that some Sabbatarians engaged in footwashing in 1750 wrote:

And now, dear brethren, we shall use the freedom to acquaint you with one thing, and do heartily desire to recommend it to your serious and Christian consideration, and that is about the duty to wash one another’s feet…1750 (Cited in Randolph C.F. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), pp. 15-16).

Furthermore, this practice was also followed in Virginia and other churches in West Viriginia (ibid, p. 15). Here is one comment about it:

Clark says: “Some of these [western Virginia] churches, believe in the washing of one another’s feet, at appointed times” (ibid, p. 15).

It should be noted that the “foot washing” ceremony that Jesus instituted is observed annually by baptized members of the Living Church of God.

The Christian Passover for 2012 is this Thursday, April 5th, after sunset.

Several articles of related interest may include:

Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins? What about footwashing?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? This article supplies some biblical answers.
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
What Happened in the Crucifixion Week? How long are three days and three nights? Did Jesus die on “Good Friday”? Was the resurrection on Sunday? Do you really know? Who determined the date of Easter?
Did Early Christians Celebrate Easter? If not, when did this happen? What do scholars and the Bible reveal?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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