Jesus washes the Disciples’ feet

by Mike Ratliff

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, 4 *got up from supper, and *laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
5 Then He *poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus *said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” John 13:1-11 (NASB) 

Jesus knew that He was going to the Cross. He knew He was going to be betrayed and who was going to do it. However, He 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. John makes it clear in his account that Jesus demonstrated his love for his enemies by including Judas Iscariot in the foot washing. This act by our Lord 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.

6 So He *came to Simon Peter. He *said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” John 13:6-8 (NASB)

What does this mean that unless Jesus washes Peter then he would have no part with Him? The word “part” translates the Greek word μέρος or meros, which could have been translated as “piece, part, share, or portion, et cetera.”  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.

12 So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. 18 I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ 19 From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
21 When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” 22 The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. 23 There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 So Simon Peter *gestured to him, and *said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” 25 He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, *said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus then *answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He *took and *gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus *said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. 29 For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night. John 13:12-30 (NASB) 

I get involved more often than I would like in discussions about Judas and how some people use his example as one who has lost his salvation, however, this passage clearly shows us that Judas never had any part or share with the Lord. In any case, we must ask ourselves, “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!

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