Shoes of the Gospel of Peace
Ephesians 6:10-18 is a very familiar passage of Scripture – the Armor of God. You might even know the name of every piece of Armor – the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Word. It ends with and exhortation to prayer.
“Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;”
Ephesians 6:14-15 NASB
There are many passages of Scripture, like this, which are so familiar. If you hear the first couple of words, you can recite it from some translation of the Bible. However, that familiarity sometimes causes us to forget the purpose of the Scripture. We may know about the Armor, know where to find the passage in the Bible, and are able to recite the name of each piece, but are we applying the armor in our daily lives? There’s a good possibility the answer is no.
Putting On the Armor of God
It happens to all of us, so this is just a reminder. When we face a trial, we need the armor. Of course, you are not running to your closet to grab all the pieces. Each piece is a metaphor. While the helmet, shield and sword may be unfamiliar, the shoes are something we definitely relate to!
Everyone has shoes. In fact, we usually have more shoes than we actually wear. We have our favorite, comfy shoes, our dress-up shoes, our walking/running shoes, and an array of others. In this passage, the shoes are referred to in several different ways. Some translations call them sandals. Some say the shoes of the gospel of peace and others say the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace. So what are these shoes?
What Do Shoes Have to Do With Peace?
After reading multiple commentaries, it seemed that no one agreed on exactly what the shoes are. They could be sandals which were worn at the time, sandals with spikes in the soles to give sure footing to the soldiers so they could stand firmly and take a hit. Soldiers also wore boots. The thing which most commentators felt at odds with was the combining of peace with war. However, Paul has done this before. “The peace of God which passes all understanding will ‘guard’ your hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7).” The meaning of ‘guard’ in that passage is literally that of a soldier protecting his post. So what does the footwear of a soldier have to do with the gospel of peace?
The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace
In that day, combat was face-to-face, hand-to-hand. It helped to have some guys who were pretty big – sort of like the linebackers on a football team. They needed to have shoes with good traction. If I were about to be attacked, I would want several things. I would want to be standing on firm ground having those shoes. Also, I would want to know what I was standing for. In a battle, I think soldiers are strengthened by knowing what they are fighting for. The paradox of war is that it is fought to obtain peace. The most violent of actions is designed to secure peace. So Paul’s illustration is that of a Roman soldier who has put on spiked sandals, taken up his armor, and stands on solid ground at peace because he knows who and what he is fighting for and that he will stand and fight to obtain peace.
Oddly enough, we do the same thing in the spiritual battles we fight. While we are not fighting flesh and blood, we still need the same things. We need to know what we are standing on and who we are standing for. We need armor to fight these spiritual battles. I can enter into spiritual warfare in complete peace because I know who is fighting beside me. Jesus’ gospel is a gospel of peace between man and God. Because of Jesus’ blood, we are no longer at war with God. Peace has come. Peace which cost God everything.
We Are Not Fighting Flesh and Blood
The passage in Ephesians about the armor of God is all about war and fighting – just not fighting flesh and blood. There are principalities and powers which desire to defeat us, to steal our peace, to throw us off our feet so that we cannot stand, to fill us with fear, and to destroy our relationship with Christ. Winning this war really doesn’t require much from us. We take up the armor. In other words, we activate the righteousness of God, stir up our faith, remind ourselves of our salvation, wrap ourselves in truth, stand on the gospel of peace, and start speaking the Word of God. Then, we just stand and pray because everything we just ‘put on’ is all Jesus!
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life – He is the belt. All righteousness is in Christ alone so He is the breastplate. He is the peacemaker and giver, the shoes are symbolic of Him. It is faith in Christ and in God the Father which saves us from our sins so Jesus is the Shield. Salvation comes only through Christ so He is the helmet. The Word was with God in the beginning and spoke creation into being and then came and died on a cross for us. Jesus is the sword. Jesus is all in all. He is both the great warrior who defeated death and hell and the peacemaker who tore the veil in half to bring peace between man and God. He is incredible.
Scriptures About the Feet
There are actually quite a few Scriptures about our feet. They really aren’t something we spend much time talking about except to perhaps mention that they hurt! But, there are 247 Scriptures using the word ‘feet.’ They have literal and symbolic meaning. For instance, the idea of sitting or falling at Jesus’ feet is mentioned several times.
- Luke 10:39, NIV, “She (Martha) had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”
- Revelation 1:17. NIV, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”
- John 11:32, NIV, “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
We Worship at the Feet of Jesus
- Matthew 15:30, NIV,“Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.”
- Luke 8:41-42, NIV. “Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him.”
- Luke 17:16, NIV, “He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.”
God Makes Us Sure-Footed
In other Scriptures, the feet are used to symbolize God helping us to be sure-footed. A deer is usually considered to be able to traverse terrain where we might slip and slide. For us, God can make our feet to be as secure as that of a Hind, a mature, female Red Deer.
- 2 Samuel 22:32-35, NIV, “For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”
- Psalm 18:33-36, NIV, “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”
Stability Comes from Walking In God’s WIll
- Habakkuk 3:19, NIV, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer he enables me to tread on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.”
- Psalm 121:2-5, NIV, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;”
Our Feet Are Meant to Carry the Good News
Our feet take us places, both good and bad. They take us to people who need to hear the good news of Jesus. They can also take us to places where sin abounds – it is up to us. The fact that Scripture talks about both options, tells us that God sees our feet and where they are headed!
- Isaiah 52:7, NIV, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!””
- Romans 10:14-15, NIV, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? How can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
There there is the opposite:
- Proverbs 6:16-19, NIV, “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
- Proverbs 1:15-16, NIV, “my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into evil, they are swift to shed blood.”
- Isaiah 59:7, NIV, “Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways.”
A Lamp For Our Feet
God lights up the way for our feet to walk. He cares about our path. He gives us the strength to walk the narrow path, He prepares a way for us in the wilderness, and when the way seems dark, His light shines.
- Psalm 119:105, NIV, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
- Proverbs 4:26-27, NIV, “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.
Jesus Washing the Feet of His Disciples
In the New Testament, we see the example of Jesus in the practice of foot washing. Jesus, God in the flesh, got down on the floor and washed His disciple’s dirty feet. Peter protested and was not going to allow it, but Jesus told Him this had to be done. He had to set the example of humility and servanthood in every aspect of life. So, washing another person’s feet personifies the character of Jesus.
Have you ever done this? I have and it was one of the most beautiful times I have ever participated in as, one-by-one, we each washed each other’s feet. We were all in tears as we recognized the significance of this action and understood Peter’s objection as we were more willing to wash than be washed.
Scriptures on Foot Washing
- John 13:14-15, NIV, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
- 1 Timothy 5:9-10, NIV, “No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”
- 1 Samuel 25:40-41, NIV, “His servants went to Carmel and said to Abigail, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”She bowed down with her face to the ground and said, “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.”
- John 13:5-9, NIV, “After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Another aspect of the story of Jesus' washing His disciple's feet is this - He was Judas' feet as well. The one would be betraying Him in just a few hours. The one He knew would betray Him. Yet, Jesus was a servant even to Judas. He… Click To Tweet
We All Need to Be Washed
We all need to be washed. Not just our feet, but every part of us, inside and out. That is what the blood of Jesus does. Jesus was showing the disciples many things. Another aspect of the story of Jesus’ washing His disciple’s feet is this – He washed Judas’ feet as well. The one who would be betraying Him in just a few hours. The one He knew would betray Him. Yet, Jesus was a servant even to Judas. He came to offer salvation to all and was willing to humble Himself even to the point of dying on a cross.
Our feet are important. I have a friend who, as an adult, lost her hands and feet to a flesh-eating bacteria. Wendy Wallace is one of the most remarkable, faith-filled, positive people I know. She had to learn how to walk and how to do it without feet. Yet, believe me, this woman goes places. Her spiritual feet carry her all over the world through her blog in which she exhorts and encourages others in their faith and in their trials.
Go Into All the World – Use Your Feet
Our physical feet are not really the point. Just as in Paul’s exhortation to shod our feet with the gospel of peace, the point was not the feet or the shoes. The point was that we are to stand in faith. Our feet are to firmly planted on the Rock, Jesus Christ. Then, as our feet are to spread the good news everywhere we go. The shoes protect our feet and let us go to the ends of the earth.
- Mark 16:14-16, NIV, “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Going will involve your feet – the physical and the spiritual ones. As you fight the good fight of faith, be sure to use the armor of God. Put on the shoes of the gospel of peace and be ready to share the message of Jesus through your actions and then your words.
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**We use verses from different Bible translations.
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