I realize the following sounds a bit odd. Still, I want to share.
Of all the topics in the world, I recently found myself studying “shoes in Biblical times.”
I had no idea that there would be so many ancient customs regarding what is worn on the feet. Surprisingly, some are still practiced today.
I was aware of a few – such as the removal of shoes before walking on holy ground. (For example, the Levites would go barefoot while performing temple duties).
Some of these things had been taught to me in the past, but in time were forgotten: I was reminded that a shoe was given to seal the deal in the transfer of property. Also, a king might deliver a shoe to another ruler as a symbol of superiority.
Many facts were new to me. For example, the custom of a groom presenting shoes to his bride. This was to say that he would “rule over her.” However, if he should give her a shoe during their married life, she would become head of household.
All this talk of shoes reminded me of modern-day applications within our own culture.
In movies: “The Wizard of Oz” (Dorothy’s ruby red slippers), “Puss in Boots” (accessories make the cat), “Cinderella” (the glass slipper had to fit), and “The Man with One Red Shoe” (a sole, most unfortunate soul).
In sayings: “If the shoe fits, wear it.” “I wouldn’t want to be in her/his shoes.” “On a shoe-string budget.” I am sure you can think of plenty of others.
Under the same category: “The shoe is on the other foot.” This saying is often associated with something negative, taking the form of first-time exposure to the trials and tribulations of another.
The good news is that I can think of a positive example of this saying. Contained within John’s gospel is Jesus’ “high priestly prayer.” It is found in Chapter 17, verse 20. After making petitions for his disciples, Jesus prays “also for those?who will believe in me through their word.”
True, the term “shoe” is nowhere to be found in that passage. However, ponder the thought of Jesus praying for you instead of you praying to Jesus. You can say with certainty that the shoe is now on the other foot.
How does this feel? Hopefully, your feet will be just as happy as the rest of you.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for 30 years.