Christian Mandalas – Visualize Scripture 2


The Christian Mandala™ shown, Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet, depicts the event described in John 13 just before the Last Supper.

Dear Jesus, what are you up to?

Overall, this is a very visual object lesson by Jesus to his disciples.

The first point of the lesson is humility and service.  As the theologian, Frederick Dale Bruner writes in his commentary on the Gospel of John, “There is no parallel in [existing] ancient literature for a person of superior status voluntarily washing the feet of someone of inferior status.”  Foot washing before a feast was a task usually performed by slaves.  Here we find God in the flesh performing the work, giving his disciples a lesson in humility and Christian service.

The second point of the lesson is symbolic.  A comparison is made between the cleansing of feet to the purification of a person’s soul.  Context.  In first-century Palestine, it was common to wear sandals.  The roads in Palestine were dirt.  Dirty and dusty, turning to mud in the rain.  It was typical to go barefoot in the house, so the first duty of the host of a meal was to wash the feet of the guests prior to their entry.  Again, this was work typically performed by a servant.  In the passage, the meal is the Last Supper, Jesus is both the host and the servant.

Jesus’ washing of feet is symbolic of his work on the cross, which cleanses the souls of believers, enabling them to enter into intimate fellowship with our Lord.  Put another way, by accepting to allow Jesus to wash your soul, you gain access to God and join in the heavenly feast.

Visualization is why we created the Christian Mandala curriculum.

Image explanation.  Peter’s foot is in the center of the image.  Christ’s hands hold Peter’s foot above a basin of water.  We see the back of Jesus’ head in the lower portion of the picture as he kneels in humility.  The apple is a Christian symbol for sin.  Jesus will wash the sin from Peter and take it upon himself.  This action is depicted as the apple’s removal from the upper portion of the foot and transference to Jesus’ right arm.  Note that the area of the foot vacated by the apple turns white, indicating that Jesus makes all believers a holy place.

The ouroboros is not a common symbol.  My rendering of the ouroboros is a stylized depiction of a snake eating its own tail.  I’m using the ouroboros symbol to represent self-centeredness.  In time, self-centeredness in the believer is replaced with Christ-centeredness.  The ouroboros, like the apple, is removed from the foot.  In effect, the snake and the apple, self-centeredness and sin, are removed from the individual.  The believer is born-again and becomes more and more like Christ each day.

The reflection of Christ’s face is shown in the water below Peter’s foot. 

As an aside, if you’ve taken Calculus, you might recognize the ouroboros.  In a mathematical context, the ouroboros may be referred to as an ordinary torus whose minor radius is a variable which linearly decreases.  A mathematical function which the Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher called “a self-centered sort of thing.” 

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