Reverend Bill Crews has kicked off Easter by washing the feet of Sydney's homeless, maintaining a tradition begun by Jesus Christ.

Mr Crews sat in the corner of his Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant in Ashfield in Sydney's inner west on Thursday as hundreds of homeless lined up for a free meal.

With just a bucket of disinfected water, he began scrubbing the feet of the city's poor and needy with his bare hands.

Mr Crews says he performs the act every year because of the longstanding significance of foot washing in the Christian Church.

"The Pope washes the feet of the cardinals, and it's in memory of this night when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples," he told AAP.

"But without the gold and the smells and the music, I just do it with the guests that come here.

"It's one of the most meaningful things, because a lot of these people have no one to touch them ever," Mr Crews said.

"People also tell their stories when you wash them. It's very moving."

A drug addict had once told him about injecting between their toes and getting gangrene in their feet.

Some people who attended his free restaurant never got to wash their feet, he said.

One man taking advantage of the service said Mr Crews was a "good shepherd".

"It's always a rare, once-a-year honour for me to have my feet washed by a reverend."

The Exodus Foundation which runs the restaurant says meals will be available throughout the long weekend, with Sydney's Jewish community preparing and serving the meals on Easter Sunday.

 

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