Ways of Christ

Logo: drawed Christian cross and earth symbol

Main text part 1, The Gospels,
chapter :

Christ "Washing the Feet"; and Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus.

Drawing: Jesus washing the feet of the disciples

The rest of the Gospel reports show more and more symbolic events, whereas more detailed concurrent lessons are missing. At this point, if not earlier, we can forget the commercially trimmed "Everything about Jesus - disclosure-stories", at the end of which we still don't know anything. Although some outward knowledge can be helpful at this point, only meditative contemplation can lead to any decisive insight anyway. The results, however, can be of some stimulation to others in their own efforts to gain insight and no priest or historian can save us this search.

The foot washing (John 13, 1-20) is paraphrased in the Bible text as a purification. Since the meaning of such "esoteric" passages was later hardly understood, one did not wish to change it, and so at least they were left uncensored. The person concerned is "completely pure", so this does not mean the feet only, but the symbolic significance for the entire person. In many cultures this type of thinking in analogies was common. The same functions can be found in the human organism, that is the Micro- or mesocosmos (meso = middle) and in the surrounding nature, which belongs to the macrocosm. The feet are pointed towards the ground and their movement follows the will. Whichever way a person "goes", it requires a decision of the (free) will. A purification of this will - here by God - and its contradictory somersaults - here by Christ - is shown in the content of the foot washing. Jesus also values good deeds much more highly than Christian lip service (Matthew 25, 31-43...).

However, this action, like all the events that followed, did more than represent a mere repetition of the impulses already given in the years preceding, for the purification of the various spiritual parts of a human being. Everything was governed by the fact that Jesus knew that his time had come and that his disciples should become mature enough to spread the "certain something" independently to wider sections of the population. No longer just their own personal qualities - in this case their good will - under the increasing supervision of their inner selves is the goal, as it had been up to now. This higher, non-egoistic "I" - now united with the "person", can now increasingly become one with that "Christ, who took shape in us" like a "self of selves". Life is no longer mere "personal destiny".

This experience could initially be described like this: the inner comprehension of this action can result in such purity, that everything can now be controlled more directly from the innermost source itself through the various layers of our being. However it is initially an act of will. Feeling and recognition will gradually become perfected, so that the human being is then able to explain more directly the "why" of his impulses. Within us, God also follows a sequence analogous to the steps of learning a child follows on its level. That does not mean that this new stage of evolution should develop without thought. The development of ethical feeling and clear recognition has already been strongly activated. All that is still lacking is a further perfection of this feeling and thinking in the spirit of Christ, as the will now receives it.

Another way of experiencing these hardly describable stages might be related to becoming conscious of our own consciousness, or the view of the (guardian) "Angels" or the Higher Self, when looking at human life. The (angelic) Higher Self - as it is today often named outside the churches - can now show itself united with Christ and is also going through a transformation. Experiences with angels are quite usual in parts of new spiritual movements today; while Christians often doubt their existence in spite of the Bible, to say nothing of the question, what is our "own guardian angel" of the vernacular about - and how this connection could look like. But the Christ represents the shaped, personal human being, and the keeping of the achievements of the life, also when opening oneself for the impersonal worlds of energies of the "angels" . A human being, who has such experiences, is not yet complete. Christ gave the disciples first insights of that already in the event of John 1. Some spiritually oriented ones think, the experience of the own angel(s) would be the most important one, and after that they could withdraw from the earthly affairs; in reality the exploration of this areas would be based on much stability already achieved, if it should not end in illusions. The more comprehensive penetration of the life on earth by the spirit may just start. As a clue here is mentioned, that f.e. R. Steiner as a researcher in spirit still ascribes the human beings long ages of evolution on earth; and some other schools too. In addition: practices like the hypnotic -spiritualist "necromancy" are something else than this archetypical basic experience of angels. But in the meantime there are many efforts of people, which must be taken serious, to be in contact with angels in their daily life.

The connection between the washing of the feet and John 12, where Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus symbolically and dries his feet with her hair was hardly noticed. Does she simply do this as a person, or does she actually represent feminine aspects of God, as it could be ascribed to Mary, the mother of Jesus or to Mary Magdalene – who is probably not identical with Mary of Bethany? Why does this precede the "washing of the feet"? For these - albeit contradictory - approaches of feminist theology of experience there are certainly some undiscovered or only partially discovered treasures. The "last anointing" e.g. of the Catholic Church can be looked at as a reminiscence of that incident.

Furthermore, it is remarkable that the washing of the feet was not unique to Jesus, but that the disciples too were encouraged to wash each others’ feet  (just as the last supper was - for the time being - given to the early community, in the sense of a universal priesthood). This will to live in God, refined by the washing of the feet, is expanded over and above one’s own being onto those around him, firstly to the person whose feet are being washed and then onto others and all the disciples, with whom he is sharing responsibility.

Washing the feet can also be understood as a service to others With this foot washing alone they "take part in him" (in Jesus), as Jesus calls it. This underlines the comprehensive significance of this step. This can be compared with young people saying, he/she "goes with me" (German, meaning "is my girl/boy friend") which is, at least at that moment, most important for them. However, the "washing of the feet" is no longer a matter of "having a relationship" but of " being in a living relation". The washing of the feet is only comprehensible as "a step forward". Details of how to practice this externally are less important. But in the sense of the alchemist’s practice of using external actions for making inner attitudes and processes in man more imaginable, this action is reasonable - if the related inner attitude is existent. Even a conceivablly correct attitude of an active priest would not be enough; the consciousness of the one concerned is the most important. This is also true for the last supper (see also the next chapter) - the schools of theologians do not agree about the various aspects of it. They may even be right in their viewpoints; however, this very viewpoint of the conscious transformation of the person concerned is not appreciated properly, neither by the Catholic nor by the Protestant Church.

Although in the case of simpler teachings 5000 people were still able to grasp the meaning and later 500 or 70 that could still participate in the more difficult steps; in the washing of the feet only the eleven disciples took part. Those who had learned a lot from Jesus and were well enough prepared so that they could understand. Perhaps Judas was not yet able to. Jesus did not give all his lessons for everyone straight away, but step-by-step. However, in the meantime several individuals may effectively start their meditative practice with the events leading up to the crucifixion. The Christian Rosicrucians attempted this. Washing the feet, whipping, crowning with thorns, crucifixion and laying in the grave, resurrection, ascension they called the Christian Initiations. Translated into the depth of understanding of a later age, the dream pictures of the seven days of the "alchemist wedding" also resulted from that. ( "Chymische Hochzeit des Christian Rosenkreutz", 1616 written by the Lutheran theologian J. V. Andreae, disguised as some kind of satire or fairytale.)

In most cases such a step is certainly not completed when experienced for the first time in life, either in meditation or as a dream. Human existence with all its abilities can extend in many directions. Other steps may follow and overlap with preceding steps, but new qualities will only be "rounded off" after the preceding steps have been rounded off that serve as a basis for it.

The anointing at Bethany is followed in John 12 by the triumphal Entry of Jesus at Jerusalem as the Messiah. After the Washing of the Feet, John 13-17, the prediction of the betrayal by Judas Iscariot is handed down; then come the Last Speeches and the prayer of Jesus for himself and the disciples.

In the Washing of the Feet, theologians have often seen a symbolic act that points to the upcoming crucifixion of Jesus; or an example of serving with the purifying love of God. However, it was also heralded as a deed with direct impact.

Extra window: quote from the Bible

Help: a self-examination for the work with the main text

Do I want to ask* God – if I haven’t already – for my good will toward others to become second nature to me - even if it’s strenuous ?
* Later: instead of asking (praying) – having faith, i.e. being convinced. Even later: Experiencing God's effects (grace).


To the next chapter of this part (Gospel)

Back to the index of this part of the main text: The Gospels

To the Homepage with more contributions: The Revelation, and many other topics


Reference to a complete version for print, and Copyright Ways of Christ™