As we meditate on the Lord’s last Passover supper, let us turn our attention to the incident recorded in John 13:1-17. For those of us who know our bibles well, we know this passage as the only place where the washing of the disciples feet in recorded. None of the other Gospel writers have mentioned this in their books. It is also interesting to note that the events which we celebrate as the Holy Communion today, are recorded in all the other Gospels but not in John’s Gospel. Is it not interesting to note that the “demonstration of the full extent of His love” Vs 1, is recorded by none other than the disciple that Jesus Loved?
But let us get to the act of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Let us explore together three concepts here
1. Why did Jesus do this?
2. Why should we receive this from others?
3. Why should be we do this to others?
Why did Jesus do this? Remember, just before this, Jesus was anointed by Mary (Matt 26:2-6) , and He graciously accepted this anointing in a stately manner. So why should He abase himself with a lowly act like this now? If the disciples feet needed to be washed, they could have done it themselves. The text before us gives us four reasons why Jesus did what He did.
1. That he might testify his love to his disciples, v. 1, 2.
The twelve were the ones He chose. They were with him till now. There were times when He chided them, there were times when they bumbled, when they faltered, there are going to be things that they will do that are incorrect, one of them will betray Him, one of them will deny Him, others will run away and hide. Yes they were imperfect people, with human weaknesses. Yet the fact is that He loved them and wanted to show then the true extent of His Love. The verse says that He loved them to the end. And we know He loved them beyond too. Noteworthy is the fact that he chose the right time to demonstrate this love. he chose a time, when He knew that the time had come, and it was time for him to return to His father. He also knew that Judas was going to betray Him very soon, and that Peter was going to deny Him soon after. But He did not refrain from washing the feet of Judas or Peter. He wanted to demonstrate His love, no matter what the others would do to Him in return. His love is unconditional and not dependent on what we do. He loves His Church, no matter what. No matter how many hypocrites are there in the church, no matter how many betrayers are in the Church. Jesus loves us. I would like us to take a moment to let that fact sink in.
2. That He might give an instance of his own voluntary humility and His willingness to disregard positions and ranks , v. 3-5.
The versus before us, tell us that Jesus did what He did with full and complete knowledge of what He was, where He came from. Jesus knew fully well that the Father had given all things under His authority and with that full knowledge He rose up from the dinner table and started this humble act. Just as he would go to the cross willingly later, he did this act too voluntarily. Can we think of a better demonstration of humility? Can we think of a better example f servanthood? The Lord of all, the creator, the Alpha and the Omega, kneeling down and washing the feet of His disciples. He was not washing the feet of the saints. The disciples became saints much later. At this time they were sinners like you and me. Judas was planning very meticulously about how to betray Jesus, and Jesus chooses to stoop down to the very person who was going the betray Him. The reasons of divine grace are sometimes represented in scripture as strange and surprising (as Isa. 57:17, 18; Hos. 2:13, 14); so here, that is given as an inducement to Christ to stoop which should rather have been a reason for his taking state; for God’s thoughts are not as ours. Compare with this those passages which preface the most signal instances of condescending grace with the displays of divine glory, as Ps. 68:4, 5; Isa. 57:15; 66:1, 2.
3. That he might signify to them spiritual washing, which is referred to in his discourse with Peter, v. 6-11.
In our lives there are many times when we do not know what is happening to us, or why is some thing happening to us. That is exactly what was going through the minds of the disciples when Jesus started this foot washing act. Jesus’ answer to their un asked question was simple. “You do not know now, what I am doing, but you will know later.” Many of us are like Peter, some times we think we know better than Jesus. Like Peter we might want to say to Jesus, “ Hey Jesus.. that is not the right way. You shall not do this to me, because I know that is not the right thing for me” Don’t we all do that? Don’t we all think that we know the solutions to our problems and issues, and tend to tell Jesus what to do? But Jesus is understanding. He says “ Unless I wash you, you have no part in me” . Jesus is asking us two simple things here. Implicit obedience to His plans for our lives , like Abraham (Hebrew 11:8) and to be spiritually washed by Him. The second is a clear message too, Unless we let Jesus wash our sins, we cannot have a part in Him. All the privileges that come with Christianity, all the joy, the justification, the sanctification, the grace, all that is available only to those who “partake” in Christ Jesus by allowing Him to wash us of our sins.
4. That he might set them an example, v. 12-17
This is one of the instances where Jesus makes it very plain and simple as to why He did what He did. He says, you call me master and Lord, and so I am. And I have done this to set an example for you. If I your Master and Lord can stop down and wash your feet, there is no reason why you should not do that to one another.
Having understood why Jesus did this, let us now turn to the next important question. Why should we receive this service from others?
We have all sinned. Just like Jesus’ disciples, we have sinned against each other and against Jesus. The bible records show that Jesus washed the feet of Judas, who He knew was going to betray Him very shortly. Now many of us might not think of committing any big sins like that against Jesus, or against anyone else. However, I am sure that all of will agree that there were times, when we have had some thing against some one in our church or neighborhood or society. Jesus says, Now go wash one another’s feet, and unless you are washed you have no part in me. Let us take that to heart and be prepared to receive the washing provided through the hands of one of our fellow church members tonight. This is not a ritual. This is not just a ceremony, this is a solemn affirmation of our obedience to Jesus and our willingness to accept each other for what they are.
Now the third question. Why should we wash some body else’s feet. The simple answer again is because this is what Jesus asked His disciples to do. The reasons are the same as why Jesus did it, that I highlighted in the past several minutes. Jesus says, love one another. Jesus says, love your enemies. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). The bible tells us that Jesus showed the true extent of His love towards His disciples through the washing of the feet. Should we shy away from washing one another’s feet to show how much we love them?
Let me also draw attention to His parting words of this event. In John13:17, Jesus says, Now that you know these things, now that I have explained why I did all this, you will be blessed if you Do them. Not if you merely read about it, not if you meditate over it, not if you preach about it, not if you sing about it, not if you write about, not if you teach about, not if you talk about it, but if you DO what I did.
Let us pray.