Jesus, Foot-Washing, and TV Ads

Thoughts on the “He Gets Us” ads:

By now most of you are aware of the controversy that has arisen over some ads played during the US Superbowl on Sunday. They were part of the campaign, “He Gets Us”. They were meant to get people interested in and talking about Jesus. Similar ads were first shown a year ago. Their website provides more of their rationale and reasoning for the ads:

But critics from various persuasions hit out at the ads for different reasons. Leftists did not like it because they say conservative backers of the ads make them unacceptable. But it is conservative Christian criticisms here that I will focus on.

And the most obvious issue is this: If you are going to spend $100 million on ads for a highly watched television event, you would think that getting the core message of Jesus out there would be paramount. And the core message of Jesus? How about something like: “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near’” (Matt. 4:17)?

Of course Jesus “gets us”. He knows all about us. He created us. But the issue is this: it is exactly because he knows us so well – as lost, selfish sinners heading to a lost eternity – that he came and died a cruel death on a cross so that we might be transformed and saved.

The whole point of the gospel message is that Jesus came to set us free from sin and self, and to radically transform us. If I had just 30 or 60 seconds to tell the lost about Jesus, that is what I would be emphasising. And the Bible itself tells us exactly why Jesus came to planet earth – and often in short and sweet summary statements. Here are just some of them:

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

John 9:39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

1 Timothy 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

1 John 3:5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.

Hmm, if you are gonna spend mega-bucks trying to reach the lost, why not feature the actual words of Jesus, instead of some feel-good mumbo-jumbo that is not even biblical? Why push what looks like a progressive Christian agenda, making Jesus out to be someone happy to chum around with various sinners – but never with a view to actually changing them?

And what about that feet-washing stuff? Something I wrote some years back also applies here: “We do know that many cultural practices from back then are no longer relevant or fully applicable today. For example, washing the feet of others when folks walked on dusty roads in sandals made perfect sense back then, but not now. Today we might wash someone’s car or find some other contemporary cultural equivalency.”

As mentioned, many Christians have expressed their concerns about the ads. Let me feature just two of them. Allie Beth Stuckey tweeted this:

Last year I got lambasted by some for criticizing He Gets Us, but my concerns stand. “Shouldn’t we just be happy Jesus’s name is getting to millions of people?” If it’s not the Biblical Jesus, then no. If you’ve got the money and opportunity to buy a Super Bowl ad slot, share the gospel. Don’t waste it on some ambiguous mumbo jumbo that makes Jesus into our image rather than depicting Him as the King and Savior He is.

And Robert Gagnon posted this on the social media:

Regarding the “He Gets Us” Superbowl ad: I thought that it was not Jesus who washed the sinful woman’s feet, but the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped his feet with her hair, out of gratitude for Jesus forgiving her sin-debt as an outcome of her repentance and embrace of the gospel (Luke 7:36-50).


Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, not the feet of those who did not follow him, as a sign both of his washing away their sins by his atoning death and of their need to serve one another (John 13:1-17). Yes, Jesus washed even Judas’ feet, but even he had committed to follow Jesus, though obviously now fallen.


We have no evidence that Jesus went around washing the feet of non-followers. He went around proclaiming, “The opportune time has been fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near: Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). His ultimate act of service was going to the cross to make amends for the sin of the world, so that those who repented of their sins and came to believe in him might have life. Jesus did not get crucified for washing feet.


Preaching repentance of sins and faith in the gospel for the forgiveness of sins, a staple of the ministry of John the Baptizer, Jesus of Nazareth, Peter, Paul, John, and the rest of the early church, is not a message of “hate,” but rather a message of love and service.


“Progressive Christianity” sometimes gets this when it comes to so-called “right-wing” sins (e.g., racism, economic exploitation, xenophobia), but not so much when it comes to “left-wing” sins (abortion, “LGBTQ” immorality, violent protest).

Quite so. Instead of the vague and quite biblically-anaemic messages found on these ads, why not feature something that is real and powerful: the fact that Jesus DOES save people; that he DOES transform lives; that he DOES set the captives free? That is what the world desperately needs to hear.

With that in mind, an alternative 60-second video was just released. It tells of drug addicts, witches, abortionists, New Agers, porn stars, atheists, crims, lesbians, and jihadists who are now all sold-out disciples of Jesus Christ. Entitled “He Saves Us,” you can see this brilliant video here:

Now THAT is what the gospel is all about. That is the truth of Jesus that we desperately need to hear. If some folks start thinking and talking about Jesus because of the Super Bowl ads, that CAN be a good thing. But the real question is this: Will the sort of Jesus portrayed in these ads actually do more harm than good to the cause of Christ and the Kingdom?

[1112 words]

5 Replies to “Jesus, Foot-Washing, and TV Ads”

  1. Hmmm – Robert Gagnon’s list of left wing and right wing sins is cool. (Except that “left” was originally anti-establishment whereas today the left IS the establishment). Those left/right labels are so clumsy. Based on the original definition from the French parliament, right = establishment and left = people movement. By that definition, Jesus and the early church was genuinely left (an anti-establishment grass-roots people movement), yet the church today is painted into the “right” corner as if we are hoping to return to the glory days of yesterday’s Christianity. How about being a grass-roots people movement that bucks the system when we need to – then we will see some glory days like they did in Acts. After all, we might as well be left because there is almost zero redeeming features in the current western establishment (government, education, law, media, influencers). And we can’t be called “right” because we aren’t the establishment any more. I vote we replace left/right with better descriptions like socialist/freedom or state/individual. Maybe someone needs to think up the best and catchiest terms. How about woke/reality… LOL.

  2. I’m so disheartened at how much woke language was used in this ad
    The Jesus of the Bible meet us where we are in our mess, misery and sin.
    BUT…He NEVER leaves us there!!!
    A true meeting with Jesus, Christ, the savior of the world is 100% transforming.
    We go and sin no more.

    In my humble opinion, the ad it’s portrayed Christianity/Christ as a warm fuzzy hug a pat on the back to go and live your life the way you’ve been living it.
    What a tragedy.

  3. Can’t agree totally with you on this, Bill. I do think that “getting Jesus’ name out there” can have an impact. God works in different ways with different people — and some can be reached via curiosity. The same, I think, goes for the idea of just preaching “God is love.” For indeed He is, just not what we sinful humans, caught up in sin and drawn in by the world’s values, think love is all about. (And I use “we” sinful humans advisedly — for all of us are prone to these lapses.) Getting people to look at Jesus the Christ can open the door to learning what real love is: self sacrifice. It brings not the fleeting happiness of fleshly pleasures, but the true joy, peace and fulfillment of life in tune with God’s will.

  4. Thanks Marla. As I said in my piece, “If some folks start thinking and talking about Jesus because of the Super Bowl ads, that CAN be a good thing.” But it all depends on what is being heard – or not heard of course. Folks can hear about Jesus in the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for example. That will give them a false Jesus and a false gospel, and eternal separation from the real Christ. I suspect that most folks seeing this ad would come away with the message it seems to want to convey: Jesus is happy with us just the way we are, so we can all just chill. That is certainly not the gospel message I find in the Bible.

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