Concerning Redeeming and Changing – One Shoe is Enough


Brother Royce Ellis - Assoc. Editor

Jhn 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.

We’ve all heard sermons about the importance of washing the saint’s feet, and how closely it’s tied to the ordinance of communion. Not every church includes foot washing in their service, and we’ve always been given the liberty to choose whether it’s right for us or not. No church I know makes it a test of fellowship.

We read the story and we know the disciples caught the immediate lesson of service and humility while bowing at our brother’s feet. We see that instantly. Peter watched Jesus wash the feet of several disciples before it became his turn. Something about what Christ was doing Peter clearly didn't understand. Christ said he would “hereafter."

Let’s investigate that hereafter and try to discover what these disciples, and eventually, we, were to learn and know.

There is an expression John the Baptist used that’s so important all four gospel writers reported a version.

Jhn 1:27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

We have this on record – four times in the gospels because it’s important. (Mat 3:11, Mrk 1:7, Luk 3:16)

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

John reminds us how little was written in comparison to what could have been. We could say it like this: we don’t have all we could, but we do have all we need. It's reasonable then to say God didn't waste any space in the one volume He left us. If the book tells us once, it's important. Four times? We should pay attention.

The Baptist is not just telling us he’s familiar with the latest catchphrase and isn’t afraid to pepper his speech with such – he’s establishing something about Jesus – and telling us to look back to the law, then forward to the cross.

Sometimes, we have to read “between the lines.” It’s okay to be between the lines, as long as those lines are doctrinally sound – and as long as we don’t go over the line in our theories.

In Deuteronomy, we find this law and instruction: 25:9 Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house. 25:10 And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

When a woman who was childless loses her husband, it was the responsibility of the deceased husband's brother to take her to be his wife and raise children in his brother's name. The rulers of Jesus' day attempted to entrap Him using this same scenario. (Matt 22:23)

An application of this law is told in the book of Ruth when Boaz takes Ruth to be his wife after the nearer kinsman cannot redeem her.

Rth 4:5 Then said Boaz, What day thou buyest the field of the hand of Naomi, thou must buy it also of Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the dead, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. :6 And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it.

4:7 Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.
:8 Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.

Rth 4:9 And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, of the hand of Naomi.

Shoe removal also comes into play in the book of Joshua.

Jos 5:13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?  5:14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? Jos 5:15 And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

The captain of the host of the Lord is Jesus himself. You'll recall in the Book of Revelation John twice attempted to worship angels and was corrected. Joshua is not stopped. Only God the Father and God the Son are to be worshipped. This was Jesus.

Why one shoe? When Moses approached the burning bush, he was instructed to remove his shoes (plural) from off his feet (plural). However, in Joshua, the instruction is singular. Joshua, as the representative of the children of Israel, was about to redeem the land from the heathen. The lesson is one of redemption.

Rth 4:7 Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.

John the Baptist could not remove the shoe of Christ – he couldn’t even loosen the latchets. By declaring aloud his inability, he referenced the law the Jews would have known and highlighted the sinless lamb, telling all Jesus was going to provide redemption.

Now, back to that fateful night in the Upper Room. Can we allow our imagination of that scene some liberty? Put the large table and one-sided seating you see in the famous "Last Supper" painting by Michelangelo out of mind for a moment. Before that scene, the Passover is being completed, for the last time, by the very one who instructed Moses on how to observe it.

Question: Would the one who wrote the law, who came to fulfill the law to a jot and a tittle do other than what was instructed in the law? I think not. (Matt 5:18)

Num 9:2 Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. 9:3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.

What are the "rites and ceremonies of it?" Was it observed reclining, relaxing, all on one side of a long table? It was not. It was accomplished thusly: Exo 12:11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover.

Let the scriptures paint the picture. Jesus and the disciples are STANDING, shoes on their feet, staff in hand. They eat the Passover in haste, commemorating deliverance from Egyptian bondage. Once the ceremony is complete, they sit down as Jesus has more to say to them. He reveals one among them will betray Him; Judas dips in the sop, and departs. Judas is not present for the Lord's supper or the feet washing that follows. Understanding John's circular writing style will properly put the events of that night in sequence.

Normally, the shoes would have been left at the door, as Jewish custom required. Not so for this night. After the bread and the wine, prayers and explanation, Jesus riseth from supper.

You don't rise from a standing position, which is how Passover is eaten.

Christ plucked the shoe from each of the disciples before he washed their feet, showing each of them they needed redemption – and could not provide it themselves. He was confirming to each of them that only He, as the nearer kinsman could redeem them.

“…concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things;”

What is Christ changing and redeeming? Surely, His actions in the final week confirmed a divorce from the old law service and temple worship. Henceforth, worship is no longer at the temple, but in the company of like-minded brothers and sisters who share the same baptism, doctrine, and belief. (Jhn 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.) He's also confirming the changing of the observance of Passover, as He is the final, and only suited perfect sacrificial Lamb.

Did he pluck the shoe of each of them? In our example in Joshua, only Joshua removed his one shoe, and not every child of Israel, but he was their representative. I speculate – which is okay if I do not harm scripture or doctrine – that at the Lord’s supper, each that had their shoe plucked was being confirmed as a king and priest unto the Lord. (Rev 1:6, Jhn 15:27)

What’s being changed and confirmed?

The old law could not raise up children. Our elder brother – our nearer kinsman, is confirming His redeeming of the bride - raising up children unto himself.

The actions of that evening include fellowship, prayer, preaching, and singing, as well as the initial communion service. Christ is changing and redeeming the worship service from the old law and confirming how we are to gather in service hereafter.

And as Joshua took part in the old land, Christ is redeeming the New Testament Canaan’s land, confirming the church and setting their walk and the manner they are to witness and serve.

Where do you find the establishment of the pattern for worship we use today, singing, praying, preaching and fellowship, if not in John 13?

In Acts 2:42 – we find them continuing in the Apostles’ doctrine. That surely includes the practice Christ taught in the upper room.

And on the first day of the next week, when Christ has risen from the dead, they began to understand what he had done for them that night. They understood what he meant by “hereafter.”

Can you see Jesus, removing the shoes of His disciples, and declaring them witnesses to the changes? Much as Boaz declared in redeeming Ruth, we can imagine Christ making a declaration confirming, changing and redeeming:

"Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was mine, and all that was promised me of the Father, before the foundation of the world."