The example of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples was a symbolic act of humility. The incident was set in the all-important context of the disciples’ selfish and prideful jockeying for position as top dog in the kingdom, and even doing so on the very eve that Jesus was to be handed over for crucifixion. So, Jesus Himself, the true Top Dog, to counter their misplaced aspirations and to teach them a lesson, humbled Himself by taking the lowest place of a servant and washed their feet.
However, some churches and groups teach that this “foot washing” must be performed literally even today. Is one really to believe that Christ taught His followers to literally wash the dirt off of millions of each other’s feet every Sunday? Ridiculous, and yet that’s what some contend. The act was symbolic.
Even further, those who interpret this Scripture literally do so inconsistently, for they do not perform their “foot washing” in literal agreement with Scripture as Jesus did: for they do not strip down themselves and put on a towel as Jesus did when doing the washing. If they were consistent in their literal treatment of this symbolic act, they would also perform the feet washing literally exactly as Christ did.