I heard a joke the other day about a surly game warden who walked up a coon hunter as he sat on his tailgate listening to his hounds.
“Looks like you’ve had a good night,” the game warden said, picking up one of three coons stacked in the bed of the pickup. The game warden sniffed one of the coon’s feet and said: “This is a Mississippi coon; do you have a Mississippi hunting license?”
The coon hunter pulled a Mississippi license out of his pocket and handed it to the game warden.
Then the game warden, obviously flustered, picked up a second coon, sniffed its foot and said angrily: “This coon is from Arkansas; do you have an Arkansas hunting license?”
The coon hunter reached in his pocket and pulled out an Arkansas license.
The game warden then picked up the third coon, sniffed its foot and declared it was from Tennessee. “You got a Tennessee hunting license?”
The coon hunter reached in his pocket and pulled out a Tennessee license.
Miffed that he hadn’t found cause to write a ticket, the game warden growled: “You’ve got all these licenses, where are you from anyway?”
The hunter slipped off his sweaty Muck boot and lifted his stinky foot toward the game warden, saying: “You’re the expert; you tell me.”
It turns out foot odor is an issue for most people at some time or other, especially in the heat of summer. It seems sweat and cotton socks laced up together inside shoes create the perfect breeding ground for the bacteria that causes the foul smell.
While Jesus was here on earth, the custom of the day was for servants to wash the feet of visitors as they walked into homes. It would have been a very humbling task.
So, imagine the surprise of the disciples the day that Jesus took a pot of water and a towel and began washing the disciples’ feet. In that act, Jesus reveals the kind of character He wants all Christians to have. He wants it to be second nature for Christians to have a strong desire to serve others and to put others first.
Jesus told them: “I have given you an example that you should do just as I have done” (John 13:15).
It was a humble task with a profound meaning. By performing it, Jesus made it clear that he doesn’t ask his followers to do anything he isn’t willing to do himself. That’s the mark a great leader.
The game warden in that old joke doesn’t seem to live up to the example Jesus’ set for us. But that coon hunters sweaty toes might have awakened him.
Roger Alford offers words of encouragement to residents of America’s heartland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.