by Mike Ratliff
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” (John 13:1-11 ESV)
The following is a note from the ESV Study Bible pertaining to the passage above:
With his crucifixion imminent, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet as a final proof of his love for them, setting an example of humility and servant-hood and signifying the washing away of sins through his death. In a striking demonstration of love for his enemies, Jesus washes all his disciples’ feet including those of Judas. Jesus’ act is all the more remarkable, as washing people’s feet was considered to be a task reserved for non-Jewish slaves. In a culture where people walked long distances on dusty roads in sandals, it was customary for the host to arrange for water to be available for the washing of feet. Normally, this was done upon arrival, not during the meal.
My brethren, the next time we even begin to think we have become mature believers who have passed all the tests and have totally crucified the flesh, et cetera, we need to reread passages like this one. Do we go and ‘wash the feet’ of our enemies? Do we cling to our animosity against those who have wronged us as if it is “our right” or do we humble ourselves, forgive them and serve them as our Lord would? Notice carefully my brethren that even though our Lord did all of this for Judas Iscariot, it changed nothing. He still betrayed our Lord.
Back in v6 Peter protested when Jesus prepared to wash his feet.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
What does this mean that unless Jesus washes Peter then he would have no share with Him? The word “share” translates the Greek word μέρος or meros, which could have been translated as “piece, part, share, or portion, et cetera.” The KJV uses “part” here for instance. What Jesus is saying is that those who have no μέρος with Him do not belong to Him. The foot washing was symbolic of the washing necessary for the forgiveness of sins, in anticipation of Jesus’ death for His people, by which sins were washed away.
In vv9-11 our Lord applies the foot washing in another way. Those who have received forgiveness of sins and are new creations through the washing of regeneration via Jesus’ once-for-all death also need daily cleansing of their sins. Jesus uses the frequent need to wash the feet to symbolize our need for this daily cleansing.
Jesus washed Judas’ feet yet He still says that not all are clean. He is still applying the foot washing figuratively here. Judas participated in the ministry of our Lord as one of the 12 yet he was not spiritually cleansed, unlike Peter and the others. Judas does not have a μέρος with our Lord Jesus Christ.
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. (John 13:12-30 ESV)
I thought quite a bit about this today. How could someone be as close to our Lord Jesus as Judas Iscariot and still blow it like this? If one is not born again yet he or she is a professing believer then they can appear to quite genuine. I have seen this in my own life. I have seen it at every level. I have witnessed deacons become reprobates. I have seen Pastors leave their wives, commit adultery, and become apostates. As a deacon in a large church for many years, I saw many examples of members who were supposed Christians do very unchristian things. Some submitted to counseling and repented, but most did not.
We should not be surprised or shocked at the increasing number of obvious false teachers and preachers hammering the visible church in our time. It is amazing. I honestly never thought I would see this in my time. My grandfather was a Baptist preacher from the late 1800’s into the mid 1900’s. I am sure he expected the church to go apostate, but what is going on now would have probably shocked him. I mean some of the big names who are obviously showing apostate roots are men whom he would recognize from his time as supposed solid evangelicals.
Jesus tells us in this passage that his true messengers will not preach or teach anything contrary to what He taught. They will also have the spirit of servanthood in them just as He did. They will not be about creating huge empires for themselves because they are not greater than their master. My brethren we need to pray for these wolves to be exposed and the church’s eyes to be opened. Let us pray for this judgment of spiritual blindness and false teachers and preachers to be ended soon. If this is not to be the case then let us pray for God to continue to uphold His remnant and that the Lord return for His church soon.
Soli Deo Gloria!