1999-01-23 - Foot Washing
Originally Published 1997-03-01
Did Jesus wash your feet today? John 13 I won't bore you with the typical understanding we all have of this passage … I know we all know Jesus said to wash each other's feet to serve one another and so on. And some churches (this may be the custom in your fellowship, not mine thank God) even have surprise foot washing ceremonies, where the boots are peeled off and people are embarrassed because they forgot to change their socks or may not have any such as poor missionaries like me. I'd like to share the passage in context and discuss the meaning to believers that the example given to us was meant to hold, because we all need this tender time with our Lord and Savior. Jesus said He needs to wash His disciples' feet, and we need to let him do it as we abide and remain in Him -- on a daily basis.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that He had come from God; and that He was returning to God. 4 so He got up from the meal and, and took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him. (John 13:3-5 NIV)
Jesus said He was from the Father and He would return to the Father and He then began to wash the disciples feet. One who truly looks into the private time of teaching He spent, here covered in these few verses, will see that Jesus actually spent months teaching them. Peter, who learned a lesson in humility here, was told in verses 6-8 of this chapter that he needed to have his feet washed by Jesus, or he had no part of Him. Peter decided he wanted Jesus to wash him completely when the Master Rabbi spoke to him. A sure lesson of the need in humility for the Lord to intercede in the life of the believer. Why? He told His disciples they were already clean from the word He spoke to them...yet they would have no part with him if he did not wash their feet. Why?
Jesus answered A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you. 11 For He knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean. (John 13:10-11 NIV)
Why would he say this? The obvious reason is because Judas Iscariot was present, the one who stole from the money bag. The one who was foretold to betray Him and finally did -- yet there is more here to this passage for the believer. The key I believe, is to know a few facts. John wrote his gospel after the other three gospel records were written. He was well aware that Jesus having gone into heaven already and the Holy Spirit (the Comforter) was sent to dwell inside all who would confess Jesus as Lord and believe His atonement was good enough for their sin. A believer (disciple) would know this fact. And that afterwards Jesus said they would understand what he was saying. So what was Jesus saying here? Was it just for us to minister to each other. Or was it that we needed Him to minister unto us also?
But when this priest (speaking of Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:12-13)
This atonement he made was once and for all, and yet we also know it says that Jesus sits at the right hand of God making intercession on behalf of His children. Jesus said that unless He would wash them they could have no part of him. I am of the opinion that the washing was symbolic of the Word of God and that this word renews us and cleanses us. Each time (speaking for myself personally) I spend a good session with God in His Word, I come away feeling refreshed, renewed and clean. And I know I am saved and that Jesus is not going to lose any sheep in His hand (like me) but my feet certainly get filthy in this journey through the polluted world, day in and day out. Jesus knows I believe in Him, that I know where I came from, who I am and where I am going. I know too, that His blood washed me clean of my past, present and even future sins, by His atonement. Still I need to go to him in humility, with my self. I still find myself as Paul did, not always reaching the goal, not hitting the mark, doing things I don't want to do and dirtying my feet and troubling my soul along this difficult journey of life. I realize I have not arrived yet. Do you realize it? There are many things which will upset us in this life, and our feet do get dirty as we walk through a polluted world. Our faith increases and our souls are lifted when we let our Master wash our feet on a daily basis through His Word. Certainly God corrects us He intercedes for us, and His atonement lasts. But we all need to have our feet washed by Him, too. A suggestion I have for you spend some time with the Lord in His Word and let Him wash your feet each day. You will see it feels pretty good to get the dirt off your feet from your journey through this yuck-filled world. There is no other experience you will have like spending time learning God's Word when you are a born-again regenerated Christian. And if you know where you have been and where you are and where you are going for eternity, and are equipped to serve and you see a brother or sister who may be fallen, perhaps you may wish to wash their feet in the same gentle way as Jesus does with you.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peaceloving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17 NIV)
In His Service,