Today we continue to walk the journey to the cross. On Wednesday, there’s nothing written in God’s Word about what actually happened that day, but my series is dealing with people who might have lived in that time, so it doesn’t really matter. Imagine, with me, what things were like in those days. Life was hard. Each new morning was a blessing from God. Some folks didn’t know if they’d survive each day. Many of the Jews had occupations, such as potters, blacksmiths, merchants and teachers. Some of the people received no pay for their work and were deemed “slaves.” They usually lived in the house of their master, were often looked at as the scum of society, had value only in what price they could bring if they were sold to someone else. Today we meet Ovadya, a slave assigned to washing feet.
OVADYA – A SLAVE
I was born into slavery. My mother gave birth to me, knowing that I had no future to look forward to other than serving others. My father would never have his own land to work. He would forever be a victim of his circumstances, just as I would. I’m not complaining. I have a decent place to live and food to eat, I’m just at the lowest rung on the ladder of humanity.
My job is to wash the feet of my master, his family and any guests that come and go throughout the day. I know you don’t understand the idea of washing feet as I do. You complain when you have to wash your hands more often than you like. I live in a time when most travel was done on foot. There were sandals, but still feet were exposed to the dirt of the city, the desert and the barnyard. As you can imagine, feet need washing every day and sometimes even more. Remember, I’m talking about the metropolis of Jerusalem, where people threw their refuse out the windows and onto the streets. Where animals roamed freely and were left to their own natural use for the roads. The road to Jerusalem was lined with rocky terrain, sand from the desert and dirt being carried in from all over the known world.
Cleaning feet is a lowly task – one that requires ignoring your senses and proceeding in spite of them. It isn’t just a matter of washing the dirt off, but getting between the toes and under toenails to remove the grime. Feet get caloused, blistered and broken. It’s not something you ever get used to, but I know that being a slave requires me not to think too much about things like that.
My own hands have grown rough and dry from having them in water all day long. My nose is exposed to all kinds of smells. I get no thank yous for the job I do, because it’s expected of me. I’m a slave. I long for the day when I will be free to have my own feet washed. I dream of living on my own land. I desire the chance to prove myself in other ways, but I have been condemned to this life and must learn to accept it. Anyone who would actually want my job, would be considered a fool. No one wants to give up their freedom.
Yet there was a man who came to the city this week and was greeted with song and honor. He’s nothing special, just another religious fanatic trying to change the world, and yet I noticed his willingness to reach out to help others without expecting anything in return. I thought he must know all about what it is to be a slave. It was as if he was walking in my shoes.