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  HELP JOHN 13:1-17: “If you know these things, blessed and happy and [c]to be envied are you if you practice them [if you act accordingly and really do them].” (v17)

From this verse, it is clear that our knowing the divine things of the Lord God Almighty is one thing but the zeal to practice and sincerely act accordingly and really do or carry them out in our day to day life is what really matter most. As we zealously practice and act accordingly by really doing and carrying them out in our daily life is, as we have been saying where contentment comes from, that contentment is not something we can create but is a by-product of something else, then how do we open ourselves so that we can experience that deep inner contentment? That is what we will focus on now. As we keep focusing on contentment, joy, happiness and satisfaction in life on earth, we must not lose sight that all of these is centred on the Lord’s Beatitude or you call it Be-attitude! Listen again to Lord Jesus’ words: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ as seen in Matthew 5:3 saying ‘Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous-with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favour and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!’. There are those who say that this phrase should read, ‘Blessed are the poor.’ Notice that there is a difference between blessed are the poor and blessed are the poor in spirit. Their argument is based on Luke 6:20 which says: ‘And solemnly lifting up His eyes on His disciples, He said: Blessed (happy—[a]with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, apart from your outward condition—and [b]to be envied) are you poor and [c]lowly and afflicted (destitute of wealth, influence, position, and honor), for the kingdom of God is yours!’ know that the two passages are addressing two different life conditions, so do not think that they are the same, No they are not! But in this first beatitude on the Mount Lord Jesus is not thinking of material poverty, but spiritual poverty. Look again at Lord Jesus’ words: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit (my emphasis). The word for ‘poor’ in the Greek is ptochos –a word that is also used of those reduced to begging, those who are dependent on others. But here in Mat. 5:3 it implies a voluntary life style of emptying of our inner being, in other words living a simplicity life that does not emphasis ostentatious life-being in order to receive something of greater benefit. We could read Lord Jesus’ statement like this: ‘Blessed are those who are dependent in spirit’ –that is, those who are willing to be dependent on God to fill them with His life and grace. Because it is only when you are filled with the life and grace of God that things will work out victoriously and progressively for you according to God’s will and purpose in life on earth otherwise, you are on your own doing your own will and mistakenly calling it God’s will! Lord Jesus’ first prescription, then, for inner happiness and contentment is giving ourselves to God so that He will fill us with His life and grace. This reverses the usual advice on how to experience joy and contentment, which generally begins with the words ‘take’, ‘assert’, or ‘affirm’. Which prescription brings real contentment? I have no hesitation in saying it is the prescription of Lord Jesus. Contentment begins with sincerely and honestly giving ourselves completely over to God in total surrender giving His Will first priority. It is very essential in life for us to humbly acknowledge that we cannot find true blessed life through our own efforts. So we need help –God’s divine help and assistance!

  Love, Humility, and Cleansing (John 13:1-11):

Our Saviour having finished His public discourses, in which He ‘endured the contradiction of sinners,’ now applies Himself to a private conversation with His friends, in which He designed the consolation of saints. Henceforward we have an account of what passed between Him and His disciples, who were to be entrusted with the affairs of His household, when He was gone into a far country the necessary instructions and comforts He furnished them with. His hour being at hand, He applies Himself to set His house in order. In this chapter, 1. He washes His disciples’ feet as seen in John 13:1-17 2. He foretells who should betray Him as seen in John 13:18-30 3. He instructs them in the great doctrine of His own death, and the great duty of brotherly love as seen in John 13:31-35 4. He foretells Peter’s denying Him as seen in John 13:36-38 Verses John 13:1-17, It has generally been taken for granted by commentators that Christ’s washing His disciples’ feet, and the discourse that followed it, were the same night in which He was betrayed, and at the same sitting wherein He ate the Passover and instituted the Lord’s supper; but whether before the solemnity began, or after it was all over, or between the eating of the Passover and the institution of the Lord’s supper, they are not agreed. This evangelist, making it his business to gather up those passages which the others had omitted, and industriously omits those which the others had recorded, which occasions some difficulty in putting them together. If it was then, we suppose that Judas went out as seen in v. 30 to get his men ready that were to apprehend the Lord Jesus in the garden. But Dr. Lightfoot is clearly of opinion that this was done and said, even all that is recorded to the end of chapter 14, not at the Passover supper, for it is here said as seen in v.1 which reads “[Now] before the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew (was fully aware) that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and [a]to the highest degree” to be before the feast of the Passover, but at the supper in Bethany, two days before the Passover (of which we read in Matthew 26:2-6, at which Mary the second time anointed Christ’s head with the remainder of her box of ointment. Or, it might be at some other supper the night before the Passover, not as that was in the house of Simon the leper, but in His own lodgings, where He had none but His disciples about Him, and could be more free with them. In these verses we have the story of Christ’s washing His disciples’ feet; it was an action of a singular nature; no miracle, unless we call it a miracle of humility. Mary had just anointed His head; now, lest His acceptance of this should look like taking state, He presently balances it with this act of abasement. But why would Christ do this? If the disciples’ feet needed washing, they could wash them themselves; a wise man will not do a thing that looks odd and unusual, but for very good causes and considerations. We are sure that it was not in a humour or a frolic that this was done; no, the transaction was very solemn, and carried on with a great deal of seriousness; and four reasons are here intimated why Christ did this:— 1. That He might testify His love to His disciples, as seen in v. 1, v. 2. 2. That He might give an instance of His own voluntary humility and condescension, as seen in v. 3-5. 3. That He might signify to them spiritual washing, which is referred to in His discourse with Peter, as seen in v. 6-11. 4. That He might set them an example, as seen in v. 12-17. And the opening of these four reasons will take in the exposition of the whole story. i. Christ washed His disciples’ feet that He might give a proof of that great love wherewith He loved them; loved them to the end, as seen in v. 1, v. 2. ii. It is here laid down as an undoubted truth that our Lord Jesus, having loved His own that were in the world, loved them to the end, as seen in v. 1. iii. This is true of the disciples that were His immediate followers, in particular the twelve. These were His own in the world, His family, His school, His bosom-friends. Children He had none to call His own, but He adopted them, and took them as His own. He had those that were His own in the other world, but He left them for a time, to look after His own in this world. These He loved, He called them into fellowship with Himself, conversed familiarly with them, was always tender of them, and of their comfort and reputation. He allowed them to be very free with Him, and bore with their infirmities. He loved them to the end, continued His love to them as long as He lived, and after His resurrection; He never took away His loving kindness. Though there were some persons of quality that espoused His cause, He did not lay aside His old friends, to make room for new ones, but still stuck to His poor fishermen. They were weak and defective in knowledge and grace, dull and forgetful; and yet, though He reproved them often, He never ceased to love them and take care of them. These weaknesses in His disciples does not boarder Him because He knows that in spite of these, He will still achieve what He has set out to achieve through them, which He did. iv. It is true of all believers, for these twelve patriarchs were the representatives of all the tribes of God’s spiritual Israel. Note, [A.] Our Lord Jesus has a people in the world that are His own,—His own, for they were given to Him by the Father, He has purchased them, and paid dearly for them, and He has set them apart for Himself,—His own, for they have devoted themselves to Him as a peculiar people. His own; where His own were spoken of that received Him not, it is tous idious —His own persons, as a man’s wife and children are His own, to whom He stands in a constant relation. [B.] Christ has cordial love for His own that are in the world. He did love them with a love of goodwill when He gave Himself for their redemption. He does love them with a love of complacency when He admits them into communion with Himself. Though they are in this world, a world of darkness and distance, of sin and corruption, yet He loves them. He was now going to His own in heaven, the spirits of just men made perfect there; but He seems most concerned for His own on earth, because they most needed His care: the sickly child is most indulged. [C.] Those whom Christ loves He loves to the end; He is constant in His love to His people; He rests in His love. He loves with an everlasting love as seen in Jeremiah 31:3 “3 The Lord appeared from of old to me [Israel], saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you”, from everlasting in the counsels of it to everlasting in the consequences of it. Nothing can separate a believer from the love of Christ; He loves His own, eis telos —unto perfection, for He will perfect what concerns them, will bring them to that world where love is perfect. • Christ manifested His love to them by washing their feet, as that good woman as seen in Luke 7:38 “38 And standing behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with [her] tears; and she wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet [affectionately] and anointed them with the ointment (perfume)” showed her love to Christ by washing His feet and wiping them. Thus He would show that as His love to them was constant so it was condescending,— that in prosecution of the designs of it He was willing to humble Himself,—and that the glories of His exalted state, which He was now entering upon, should be no obstruction at all to the favour He bore to His chosen; and thus He would confirm the promise He had made to all the saints that He would make them sit down to meat, and would come forth and serve them as seen in Luke 12:37 “37 Blessed (happy, fortunate, and [a]to be envied) are those servants whom the master finds awake and alert and watching when he comes. Truly I say to you, he will gird himself and have them recline at table and will come and serve them!” , would put honour upon them as great and surprising as for a Lord to serve His servants. The disciples had just now betrayed the weakness of their love to Him, in grudging the ointment that was poured upon His head as seen in Mt 26:8 “8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, For what purpose is all this waste?”, yet He presently gives this proof of His love to them. Our infirmities are foils to Christ’s kindnesses, and set them off. • He chose this time to do it, a little before His last Passover, for two reasons:— (A.) Because now He knew that His hour was come, which He had long expected, when He should depart out of this world to the Father: Observe here, [1.] The change that was to pass over our Lord Jesus; He must depart. This pass over, this His departure from the world that He is now celebrating with His disciples to go back to the people He left in the other world to come to earth began at His death, but was completed at His ascension. As Christ Himself, so all believers, by virtue of their union with Him, when they depart out of the world, are absent from the body, and go to the Father, where they are present with the Lord. It is a departure out of the world, this unkind, injurious world, this faithless, treacherous world—this world of labour, toil, and temptation—this vale of tears; that all humanity on earth answers to in natural death similar to that of the Lord Jesus Christ and it is a glorious home going to the Father, to the vision of the Father of spirits because He foresaw it and designed it thus, and the fruition of Him as ours. [2.] The time of this change, this impending transition from mere mortal to immortal: His hour was come. It is sometimes called His enemies’ hour as seen in Luke 22:53 “53 When I was with you day after day in the temple [[j]enclosure], you did not stretch forth [your] hands against Me. But this is your hour—and the power [which] darkness [gives you has its way]”, the hour of their triumph; sometimes His hour, the hour of His triumph, the hour He had had in His eye expecting it all along. The time of His sufferings was fixed to an hour, and the continuance of them but for an hour. So from this you can see that there is always an hour that the devil and his agencies have the sway and God’s people has to endure and persevere waiting when the turn comes and give advantage to them [3.] His foresight of it: He knew that His hour was come; He knew from the beginning that it would come, and when, but now He knew that it was come. As mere humans we know not when our hour will come, and therefore what we have to do in habitual preparation for it ought never to be undone; but, when we know by the harbingers (persons through whom things are announced) that our hour is come, we must vigorously apply ourselves to an actual preparation, as our Master did, in 2 Peter 3:14 “14 So, beloved, since you are expecting these things, be eager to be found by Him [at His coming] without spot or blemish and at peace [in serene confidence, [a]free from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts]” . Now it was in the immediate foresight of His departure that He washed His disciples’ feet; that, as His own head was anointed just now against the day of His burial, so their feet might be washed against the day of their consecration by the descent of the Holy Ghost fifty days after, as the priests were washed, as seen in Lev. 8:6 “6 Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water”. When we see our day approaching, we should do what good we can to those we leave behind. (B.) Because the devil had now put it into the heart of Judas to betray Him, as seen in v.2. These words in a parenthesis may be considered, [1.] As tracing Judas’s treason to its origin; it was a sin of such a nature that it evidently bore the devil’s image and superscription. What way of access the devil has to men’s hearts, and by what methods he darts to and fro in his suggestions to entrap his prey, and mingles them undiscerned in his tricks with those thoughts which are the natives of the beguiled heart, we cannot tell. But there are some sins in their own nature, in the nature of whosoever the devil succeeds to entrap, so exceedingly sinful, and to which there is so little temptation from the world and the flesh that it is plain Satan lays the egg of them in a heart disposed to be the nest to hatch them in. For Judas to betray such a Divine Master, to betray Him so cheaply and upon no provocation, no offence was such downright enmity to God born in human heart as could not be forged but by Satan himself, who thereby thought to ruin the Redeemer’s kingdom, but did in fact ruin his own. [2.] As intimating a reason why Christ now washed His disciples’ feet. First, Judas being now resolved to betray Him, the time of His departure could not be far off; if this matter be determined, it is easy to infer with St. Paul, I am now ready to be offered. Note, the more malicious we perceive our enemies to be against us, the more industrious we should be to prepare for the worst that may come. Secondly, Judas being now got into the snare just as many of us do, and the devil aiming at Peter and the rest of them as seen in Luke 22:31 “31 Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan [a]has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain”, do you hear that, that Satan and his agencies plan and think of ruining God’s children one after the other, but Christ would fortify His own against him. If the wolf has seized one of the flock, it is time for the shepherd to look well to the rest. Antidotes must be stirring, when the infection is begun. Dr. Lightfoot observes that the disciples had learned of Judas to murmur at the anointing of Christ; compare John 12:4 “4 But Judas Iscariot, the one of His disciples who was about to betray Him, said”, etc. with Mt 26:8 “8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, For what purpose is all this waste?”. Now, lest those that had learned that of him should learn worse, He fortifies them by a lesson of humility against His most dangerous assaults. Thirdly, Judas, who was now plotting to betray Him, was one of the twelve. Now Christ would hereby show that He did not design to cast them all off for the faults of one. Though one of their colleague was a devil, and was a traitor, yet they should fare never the worse for that. Christ loves His church though there are hypocrites in it, and had still a kindness for His disciples though there was a Judas among them and He knew it. II. Christ washed His disciples’ feet that He might give an instance of His own wonderful humility, and show how lowly and condescending He was, and let all the world know how low He could stoop in love to His own. This is intimated, in v.3-5. Lord Jesus knowing, and now actually considering, and perhaps discoursing of, His honours as Mediator, and telling His friends that the Father had given all things into His hand, rises from supper, and, to the great surprise of the company, who wondered what He was going to do, washed His disciples’ feet. 1. Here is the rightful advancement of the Lord Jesus. Glorious things are here said of Christ as Mediator.(a.) The Father had given all things into His hands; had given Him a propriety in all, and a power over all, as possessor of heaven and earth, in pursuance of the great designs of His undertaking; as seen in Mt. 11:27 “27 All things have been entrusted and delivered to Me by My Father; and no one [a]fully knows and [b]accurately understands the Son except the Father, and no one [c]fully knows and [d]accurately understands the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son [e]deliberately wills to make Him known” . The accommodation and arbitration of all matters in variance between God and man were committed into His hands as the great umpire and referee; and the administration of the kingdom of God among men, in all the branches of it, was committed to Him; so that all acts, both of government and judgment, were to pass through His hands; He is heir of all things. (b.) He came from God. This implies that He was in the beginning with God, and had a being and glory, not only before He was born into this world, but before the world itself was born; and that when He came into the world He came as God’s ambassador, with a commission from Him. He came from God as the son of God, and the sent of God. The Old-Testament prophets were raised up and employed for God, but Christ came directly from Him.(c.) He went to God, to be glorified with Him with the same glory which He had with God from eternity. That which comes from God shall go to God; those that are born from heaven are bound for heaven. As Christ came from God to be an agent for Him on earth, so He went to God to be an agent for us in heaven; and it is a comfort to us to think how welcome He was there: He was brought near to the Ancient of days, as seen in Dan. 7:13 “13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, [a]on the clouds of the heavens came One like a Son of man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him” . And it was said to Him, Sit thou at my right hand, as seen in Ps. 110:1 “1 The Lord (God) says to my Lord (the Messiah), Sit at My right hand, until I make Your adversaries Your footstool”. (e.) He knew all this; was not like a prince in the cradle, that knows nothing of the honour He is born to, or like Moses, who wist not that His face shone; no, He had a full view of all the honours of His exalted state, and yet stooped thus low. But how does this come in here? [1.] As an inducement to Him now quickly to leave what lessons and legacies He had to leave to His disciples, because His hour was now come when He must take His leave of them, and be exalted above that familiar converse which He now had with them, as seen in v.1. [2.] It may come in as that which supported Him under His sufferings, and carried Him cheerfully through this sharp encounter. Judas was now betraying Him, and He knew it, and knew what would be the consequence of it; yet, knowing also that He came from God and went to God, He did not draw back, but went on cheerfully. [3.] It seems to come in as a foil to His condescension, to make it the more admirable. The reasons of divine grace are sometimes represented in scripture as strange and surprising (as seen in Isa. 57:17, Isa. 57:18, Hos. 2:13, Hos. 2:14) 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 seen in Ps. 68:4, Ps. 68:5, Isa. 57:15, Isa. 66:1, Isa. 66:2. 2. Here is the voluntary abasement of our Lord Jesus notwithstanding this. Lord Jesus knowing His own glory as God, and His own authority and power as Mediator, one would think it should follow, He rises from supper, lays aside His ordinary garments, calls for robes, bids them keep their distance, and do Him homage; but no, quite the contrary, when He considered this He gave the greatest instance of humility. Note, A well-grounded assurance of heaven and happiness, instead of puffing a man up with pride, will make and keep Him very humble. Those that would be found conformable to Christ, and partakers of His Spirit, must study to keep their minds low in the midst of the greatest advancements. Now that which Christ humbled Himself to was to wash His disciples’ feet. (1.) The action itself was mean and servile, and that which servants of the lowest rank were employed in. Let thine handmaid (saith Abigail) be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord; let me be in the meanest employment, as seen in 1 Sam. 25:41. If He had washed their hands or faces, it had been great condescension (Elisha poured water on the hands of Elijah, as seen in 2 Kings 3:11); but for Christ to stoop to such a piece of drudgery as this may well excite our admiration. Thus He would teach us to think nothing below us wherein we may be serviceable to God’s glory and the good of our brethren. (2.) The condescension was so much the greater that He did this for His own disciples, who in themselves were of a low and despicable condition, not curious about their bodies; their feet, it is likely, were seldom washed, and therefore very dirty. In relation to Him, they were His scholars, His servants, and such as should have washed His feet, whose dependence was upon Him, and their expectations from Him. Many of great spirits otherwise will do a mean thing to curry favour with their superiors; they rise by stooping, and climb by cringing; but for Christ to do this to His disciples could be no act of policy nor complaisance, but pure humility. (3.) He rose from supper to do it. Though we translate it as seen in v. 2 supper being ended, it might be better read, there being a supper made, or He being at supper, for He sat down again as seen in v. 12, and we find Him dipping a sop as seen in v. 26, so that He did it in the midst of His meal, and thereby taught us, [1.] Not to reckon it a disturbance, nor any just cause of uneasiness, to be called from our meal to do God or our brother any real service, esteeming the discharge of our duty more than our necessary food, as seen in John 4:34. Christ would not leave His preaching to oblige His nearest relations as seen in Mk. 3:33, but would leave His supper to show His love to His disciples. [2.] Not to be over nice about our meat. It would have turned many a squeamish stomach to wash dirty feet at supper-time; but Christ did it, not that we might learn to be rude and slovenly (cleanliness and godliness will do well together), but to teach us not to be curious, not to indulge, but mortify, the delicacy of the appetite, giving good manners their due place, and no more. (4.) He put Himself into the garb of a servant, to do it: He laid aside His loose and upper garments, that He might apply Himself to this service the more expeditely. We must address ourselves to duty as those that are resolved not to take state, but to take pains; we must divest ourselves of everything that would either feed our pride or hang in our way and hinder us in what we have to do, must gird up the loins of our mind, as those that in earnest buckle to business. (5.) He did it with all the humble ceremony that could be, went through all the parts of the service distinctly, and passed by none of them; He did it as if He had been used thus to serve; did it Himself alone, and had none to minister to Him in it. He girded Himself with the towel, as servants throw a napkin on their arm, or put an apron before them; He poured water into the basin out of the water-pots that stood by as seem in John 2:6, and then washed their feet; and, to complete the service, wiped them. Some think that He did not wash the feet of them all, but only four or five of them, that being thought sufficient to answer the end; but I see nothing to countenance this conjecture, for in other places where He did make a difference it is taken notice of; and His washing the feet of them all, without exception, teaches us a catholic and extensive charity to all Christ’s disciples, even the least. (6.) Nothing appears to the contrary but that He washed the feet of Judas among the rest, for he was present, as seen in v. 26. It is the character of a widow indeed that she had washed the saints’ feet as seen in 1 Timothy 5:10 “10 And she must have a reputation for good deeds, as one who has brought up children, who has practiced hospitality to strangers [of the brotherhood], washed the feet of the saints, helped to relieve the distressed, [and] devoted herself diligently to doing good in every way”, and there is some comfort in this; but the blessed Lord Jesus here washed the feet of a sinner, the worst of sinners, the worst to Him, who was at this time contriving to betray Him and He knew of it yet it did not make Him not to serve him as He did serve others, can we emulate Him and do likewise? Many interpreters consider Christ’s washing His disciples’ feet as a representation of His whole undertaking. He knew that He was equal with God, and all things were His; and yet He rose from His dignified table in glory, laid aside His divine lofty Kingly robes of light, girded Himself with our low sin prone nature, took upon Him the form of a servant, came not to be ministered to, but to minister, poured out His blood, poured out His soul unto death, and thereby prepared a laver to wash us from our sins, as seen in Rev. 1:5 “5 And from Jesus Christ the faithful and trustworthy Witness, the Firstborn of the dead [first to be brought back to life] and the Prince (Ruler) of the kings of the earth. To Him Who [a]ever loves us and has [b]once [for all] loosed and freed us from our sins by His own blood”. III. Christ washed His disciples’ feet that He might signify to them the need for spiritual washing, and the importance and necessity of the cleansing of the soul from the pollutions of sin or life errors. This is plainly intimated in His discourse with Peter upon it, as seen in vv. 6-11, in which we may observe, 1. The surprise Peter was in when he saw His Master go about this mean service as seen in v. 6: Then cometh He to Simon Peter, with His towel and basin, and bids him put out his feet to be washed. Chrysostom conjectures that He first washed the feet of Judas, who readily admitted the honour, and was pleased to see His Master so disparage Himself. It is most probable that when He went about this service (which is all that is meant by His beginning to wash, as seen in v. 5) He took Peter first, and that the rest would not have suffered it, if they had not first heard it explained in what passed between Christ and Peter. Whether Christ came first to Peter or no, when He did come to him, Peter was startled at the proposal: Lord (saith he) dost thou wash my feet? Here is an emphasis to be laid upon the persons, thou and me; and the placing of the words is observable, sy mou —what, thou mine? Tu mihi lavas pedes? Quid est tu? Quid est mihi? Cogitanda sunt potius quam dicenda—Dost thou wash my feet? What is it thou? What to me? These things are rather to be contemplated than uttered. —Aug. in loc. What thou, our Lord and Master, whom we know and believe to be the Son of God, and Saviour and ruler of the world, do this for me, a worthless worm of the earth that I am, a sinful man, O Lord? Shall those hands wash my feet which with a touch have cleansed lepers, given sight to the blind, and raised the dead? Very willingly would Peter have taken the basin and towel, and washed His Master’s feet, and been proud of the honour, as seen in Luke 17:7, Luke 17:8. "This had been natural and regular; for my Master to wash my feet is such a solecism as never was; such a paradox as I cannot understand. Is this the manner of men?’’ Note, Christ’s condescensions, especially His condescensions to us, wherein we find ourselves taken notice of by His grace, are justly the matter of our admiration, as seen in John 14:22. Who am I, Lord God? And what is my father’s house? 2. The immediate satisfaction Christ gave to this question of surprise. This was at least sufficient to silence His objections as seen in v. 7 “7 Jesus said to him, You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later on” : What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. Here are two reasons why Peter must submit to what Christ was doing:—(1.) Because he was at present in the dark concerning it, and ought not to oppose what he did not understand, but acquiesce in the will and wisdom of One who could give a good reason for all He said and did. Christ would teach Peter an implicit obedience: "What I do thou knowest not now, and therefore art no competent judge of it, but must believe it is well done because I do it.’’ This is supposed to be our disposition in things we do not understand believing that the person who is doing it is all-knowing. Note, Consciousness to ourselves of the darkness we labour under, and our inability to judge what God does, should make us sparing and modest in our censures or disapproval of His proceedings; as seen in Heb. 11:8 “8 [Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go”. Do you here that, true belief and trust makes you confident to obey and carry out what you are told without any censure but because sin has so debased us that we no longer even know what to believe or what to stand on any more. (2.) Because there was something considerable in it, of which he should hereafter know the meaning: "Thou shalt know hereafter what need thou hast of being washed, when thou shalt be guilty of the heinous sin of denying me;’’ so can you see it, it reminds us how the daughter of God kept foolishly struggling with the command of God that she know she cannot change, and all her foolish struggles to make it not to be were all proved nonsense and at last she saw herself going to where she has battled in vain not to go, bringing us to the word ‘thou shalt know hereafter what need thou hast of being washed’. "Thou shalt know, when, in the discharge of the office of an apostle, thou wilt be employed in washing off from those under thy charge the sins and defilements of their earthly affections;’’ One man said, ‘you say you no know you go know when that time comes you go know’ and so Dr. Hammond Noted, [1.] Our Lord Jesus does many things the meaning of which even His own disciples do not for the present know, but they shall know afterwards. What He did when He became man for us and what He did when He became a worm and no man for us, what He did when He lived our life and what He did when He laid it down, could not be understood till afterwards, and then it appeared that it behoved Him, as seen in Heb. 2:17 “17 So it is evident that it was essential that He be made like His brethren in every respect, in order that He might become a merciful (sympathetic) and faithful High Priest in the things related to God, to make atonement and propitiation for the people’s sins”. Did you hear that, the Lord God Almighty Himself took the form of a human being becoming like His brethren in every respect in order for Him to come to earth to teach His brethren how to live the life of God on earth and become successful and victorious in all that they do in life! Subsequent providences explain preceding ones; and we see afterwards what was the kind tendency of events that seemed most cross; and the way which we thought was about proved the right way. [2.] Christ’s washing His disciples’ feet had a significance in it, which they themselves did not understand till afterwards, when Christ explained it to be a specimen of the laver of regeneration, and till the Spirit was poured out upon them from on high. We must let Christ take His own way or in other words we must let Christ have His way, both in ordinances and providences, and we shall afterwards find in the issue that follows that it was the best way in life. 3. Peter’s peremptory refusal for his feet to be washed, notwithstanding this, to let Christ wash his feet as seen in v.8: Thou shalt by no means wash my feet; no, never. So it is in the original. It is the language of a fixed resolution. Now, (1.) Here was a show of humility and modesty. Peter herein seemed to have, and no doubt he really had, a great respect for His Master unlike Judas who pretends, as he had, in Luke 5:8 “8 But when Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord”. Thus many are beguiled of their reward in a voluntary humility as seen in Col. 2:18, Col 2:23, such as self-denial as Christ neither appoints nor accepts; for, (2.) Under this show of humility there was a real contradiction to the will of the Lord Jesus: "I will wash thy feet,’’ saith Christ; "But thou never shalt,’’ saith Peter, "it is not a fitting thing;’’ so Peter just like many of us does, making himself wiser than Christ. Let it be known to you that any time you wrestle and try disobeying what Christ wants you to do; you are making yourself wiser than Christ. That kind of wilful disobedience and rebellion is not humility, but infidelity; it means to put away the offers of the gospel given in Christ, as if too rich to be made to us or too good news to be true or putting it in our own way we say it is too rich to be real and too good to be true! 4. Christ’s insisting upon His offer, and a good reason given to Peter why he should accept it: If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. This may be taken, (1.) As a severe caution against disobedience: "If I wash thee not, if thou continue refractory or in your stubbornness, and wilt not comply with thy Master’s will in so small a matter, thou shalt not be owned as one of my disciples, but be justly discarded and cashiered for not observing orders.’’ Do you now see the reason why the Lord God was so insistence on His daughter going to take up the appointment He has secured for her, in other words the Lord is telling her if you fail to comply with My Orders; you are on your own which is exactly what He does with all of us. Thus several of the ancients understand it; if Peter will make himself wiser than His Master, and dispute his Master’s commands which he ought to obey, he does in effect renounce his allegiance, and say, as they did, What portion have we in David, in the Son of David? And so shall his doom be, he shall have no part in Him. This is exactly what the devil wants God’s children to foolishly be doing, hence in Eden he told Adam and Eve ‘it will not surely kill you rather it will make you wiser if you eat it! Do you all now see how the principles play out and we bring doom to ourselves not knowing unlike the ancients that know the principles, no wonder Hosea said we are destroyed for lack of knowledge. “22 Samuel said, Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” as seen in 1 Sa. 15:22 . Or, (2.) As a declaration of the necessity of spiritual washing; and so I think it is to be understood: "If I wash not thy soul from the pollution of sin, thou hast no part with Me, no interest in Me, no communion with Me, no benefit by Me.’’ this is why we must know the Scripture and the Gospel becoming embodiment of them in our heart because this is the only thing that can wash our soul from the pollution of sin and render us a saved people from the damnable and doomed condition that sin has rendered us! Let us begin by reading John 13:1-17 [Now] before the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew (was fully aware) that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and [a]to the highest degree. 2 So [it was] during supper, Satan having already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, 3 [That] Jesus, knowing (fully aware) that the Father had put everything into His hands, and that He had come from God and was [now] returning to God, 4 Got up from supper, took off His garments, and taking a [servant’s] towel, He fastened it around His waist. 5 Then He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the [servant’s] towel with which He was girded. 6 When He came to Simon Peter, [Peter] said to Him, Lord, are my feet to be washed by You? [Is it for You to wash my feet?] 7 Jesus said to him, You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later on. 8 Peter said to Him, You shall never wash my feet! Jesus answered him, Unless I wash you, you have no part with ([b]in) Me [you have no share in companionship with Me]. 9 Simon Peter said to Him, Lord, [wash] not only my feet, but my hands and my head too! 10 Jesus said to him, Anyone who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is clean all over. And you [My disciples] are clean, but not all of you. 11 For He knew who was going to betray Him; that was the reason He said, Not all of you are clean. 12 So when He had finished washing their feet and had put on His garments and had sat down again, He said to them, Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call Me the Teacher (Master) and the Lord, and you are right in doing so, for that is what I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher (Master), have washed your feet, you ought [it is your duty, you are under obligation, you owe it] to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you this as an example, so that you should do [in your turn] what I have done to you. 16 I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, A servant is not greater than his master, and no one who is sent is superior to the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed and happy and [c]to be envied are you if you practice them [if you act accordingly and really do them].


We all can relate to Linus in the “Peanuts” cartoon strip when he shouts in frustration, “I love mankind; it is people I can’t stand!” It’s easy to love the human race in the abstract, but when it comes to loving specific irritating people that I can’t avoid, the process becomes a lot more difficult! In our text we see the Lord Jesus loving men who did not deserve it. Luke (22:24) tells us that at the Lord’s Supper, just after Lord Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him, the disciples got into a dispute about which of them was the greatest. For reasons that we cannot know, John omits Lord Jesus’ instituting the Lord’s Supper during this Passover meal. Some speculate that perhaps by the time John wrote towards the end of the first century, Christians had elevated the Supper rite too highly, where it had even become magical. Do you understand that, today the Lord’s Supper has lost its simplicity and significance thus has become magical through which people can be beguiled, they call it holy communion. But sometime during the supper, Lord Jesus got up and performed this exemplifying task, which normally was the job of slaves thus teaching humanity the life of true service which is lacking today, call in any body to serve you and the devil enters him or her to ruin you, giving us a hint as to what scientists call the missing link. The servile position use to be the duty of the serpent when he was a two legged creature very close in resemblance to man but he was a beast that serves man but when he was used by Lucifer to cause the fall of Adam and Eve who are the real humans the serpent served as a means to bring in a cross breed in the human race, he was cursed, that divine curse transformed him from being a two legged creature in other to differentiate him from the true man and since then he and his master Lucifer became God’s worse enemy. Since the foot washing came or took place before Lord Jesus mentioned the betrayer as seen in John 13:26, the dispute among the disciples about which of them was the greatest probably came after the graphic lesson they had just observed. Not only were the disciples bickering or argue about petty trivial things; also Lord Jesus knew that Judas was about to betray Him, Peter was about to deny Him, and all the disciples would desert Him as seen in John 13:2 “2 So [it was] during supper, Satan having already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son”, 38 “38 Jesus answered, Will you [really] lay down your life for Me? I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me [completely disown Me] three times” . All of these sins show that the disciples did not deserve Lord Jesus’ love. Also, the fact that they needed to have their dirty feet washed pictures their need for cleansing from their sin, sin of bickering, sin of betrayal, sin of denial, sin of their impending deserting of Him when the become becomes and many other numerous sin in them just as it is with us today. And, we’re just like them. We all have dirty feet or you can call it very dirty heart that Lord Jesus needs to wash in us. In fact, the very reason Lord Jesus came was to die in the place of dirty sinners so that they can be cleansed. Also, His example of humility in washing the disciples’ feet gives us a practical example of how we can love those who do not deserve it, even as He has loved us. So our text brings together these three themes: Lord Jesus’ love for those who do not deserve it; His example of demonstrating His love through humble service; and, our need for Lord Jesus to cleanse our sins. Christ’s love, His humble service, and His cleansing your sins should be realities in your life, do not be hypocritical about it: 1. Christ’s love, which you didn’t deserve, should be a reality in your life. John emphasizes through repetition Lord Jesus’ love for His own as seen in John 13:1: “[Now] before the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew (was fully aware) that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, He loved them to the last and [a]to the highest degree”. That last phrase seems to be deliberately ambiguous. It can mean that Lord Jesus loved the disciples up to the end of His life. Or, it can mean that Lord Jesus loved them totally or to the uttermost. Both are certainly true. John’s mention of the Passover draws attention to the fact that Lord Jesus is our Passover lamb. Just as the Jews put the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts and lintel to protect them from the angel of death, so Christ’s blood, applied to our hearts by faith, protects us from the wrath of God. The mention that Lord Jesus knew that His hour had come reminds us that God ordained the cross. While the sinful men who crucified Lord Jesus were responsible for their awful deed, at the same time the cross was predestined by God as seen in Acts 4:27-28 “27 For in this city there actually met and plotted together against Your holy Child and Servant Jesus, Whom You consecrated by anointing, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and peoples of Israel, 28 To carry out all that Your hand and Your will and purpose had predestined (predetermined) should occur”. It didn’t take Lord Jesus by surprise. He deliberately laid aside His glory, just as here He laid aside His garments. He took on the form of a slave and became obedient to death on the cross as seen in Phil. 2:5-11. Then, after His resurrection from the dead, He returned to the Father in glory. But don’t miss the point: Unless Lord Jesus is your Passover lamb, unless you have applied His shed blood to your heart by faith, then you are under the curse of death, which means, eternal separation from God. John also emphasizes that Lord Jesus’ disciples were “in the world.” Lord Jesus was about to depart from this world, but His disciples were still in it. As Lord Jesus will pray as seen in John 17:15-18 “15 I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world (worldly, belonging to the world), [just] as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth. 18 Just as You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world”, He didn’t ask the Father to take these men out of the world. That is the sphere of ministry to which He sends them. But they are to be distinct from the world. But walking in this world means that you get your feet dirty. Thus the need for cleansing! John (13:1) states that Lord Jesus “loved His own.” John 3:16 states that God loves the world, but here the emphasis is on Lord Jesus’ love for His own, not for the world. God loves the world by making provision for the sins of all that will believe in Jesus Christ. The invitation goes out to all: Come and take the water of life without cost as seen in Rev. 22:17 ”17 The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need [a]of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost.” Yet at the same time, Lord Jesus has a special love for His own that He does not have for the whole world. As Paul writes in Eph. 5:25, Christ “loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” You understand this principle. As a Christian, I’m commanded to love all my sisters in Christ, but I have a special love for my wife. I’m commanded to love all God’s children, but I have a special love for my own children. In the same way, Lord Jesus has a special love for His own, whom the Father gave to Him as seen in John 6:37. If you have put your trust in Christ, He wants you to know and to feel His special love for you. He loves you “to the end.” John contrasts Lord Jesus’ love for His own with Judas’ satanic treachery as seen in John 13:2 ”2 So [it was] during supper, Satan having already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son”: “During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him …” Jesus loved Judas, even though he was not one of His own. He washed Judas’ feet before he went out to betray the Lord. Lord Jesus had known all along that Judas would betray Him in fulfilment of Scripture as seen in John 6:71; and Luke 22:22. And, while Satan was the immediate force behind Judas’ betrayal as seen in John 13:2, 27, yet at the same time, Judas was responsible for his awful sin. He rejected the love of Lord Jesus, whereas the other disciples knew it personally. So John wants to ask you: In spite of being painfully aware that you don’t deserve His love, do you know the love of Christ as a reality in your life? Does His love humble you before the cross? Does His love cause you to hate your sin? Does His love motivate you to serve others in love and in humility, even as He has loved and served you? And, if you’ve never experienced His love, will you respond now to His love? But John doesn’t just tell us about Lord Jesus’ love. He also shows it in a dramatic, shocking way: 2. Christ’s example of humble service should be a reality in your life: Sometimes actions speak louder than words. Lord Jesus’ actions here shows us both how He loved us when we were unworthy of that love and how we can love others who may not be worthy of our love. John (13:3-5) paints the picture like this: 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, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. This a picture of how Lord Jesus left the joy and merry of heaven, dressed up Himself for the dirty work He is to do on earth and came to earth to save mankind from his numerous sins by teaching him how to live life on earth based on God’s word and principles. 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. By the first phrase, John shows us Lord Jesus’ authority over all of heaven and earth: “The Father had given all things into His hands.” The hands that control the universe, including all the angelic host, humbly washed the dirty feet of twelve undeserving apostles! To understand this incident, you need to know that washing someone’s feet was the task for the lowest servants, it is like a menial job and you know people don’t like doing it because it lacks prestige. Friends did not wash their friends’ feet. There are no examples in ancient literature of a superior washing the feet of an inferior. And so the disciples would have been shocked to have their Teacher and Lord as seen in John 13:13 wash their feet! Apparently, they were so shocked that they sat in stunned silence, until Lord Jesus came to Peter. He probably verbalized the thoughts that the others had been afraid to say when he protested as seen in John 13:8, “Never shall You wash my feet!” But as Lord Jesus went on to explain as seen in John 13:14-15, He did this to give us an example of how we should humbly serve one another. This humility has at least four practical aspects: A. Humility recognizes that no task is beneath us to do for Christ’s sake: I got a lesson on this early in my pastoral ministry. A young woman whose husband had a violent temper called me in tears and asked if I could come over after they had had a bad quarrel. She had a young baby and no means of child care or transportation to come to my office, so I went. When I walked in, I could see beans all over the wall and floor, where the husband had angrily thrown the pot off the stove. But it was the stench of vomit that quickly drew my eyes to the floor in front of me. The woman had vomited all over the floor and was too sick to clean it up. So before I could talk to her about her soul and her marriage, I had to clean up her vomit. Welcome to the ministry! I’m not suggesting that a pastor’s main role should be to clean up vomit or do other jobs of service. Pastors should devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and to shepherding the flock. Shepherding means to tend or serve, to guide or to direct in a particular direction. Those gifted to serve should devote themselves to service as seen in 1 Pet. 4:10-11. But at the same time, never think that a task is beneath your dignity or calling. You’re Christ’s slave. Sometimes He asks His slaves to clean up vomit out of love for Him. B. Humility requires thinking of others more highly than of yourself: The disciples hadn’t washed one another’s feet because they were arguing about who was the greatest. But after pointing out that seeking dominance over one another is the way of the world, Lord Jesus said to them in Luke 22:26-27 ”27 For who is the greater, the one who reclines at table (the master), or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am in your midst as One Who serves. 28 And you are those who have remained [throughout] and persevered with Me in My trials”, “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Two women in the church in Philippi were having a dispute. Paul wrote to that church as seen in Phil. 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” He went on to cite the example of Christ, who willingly took on the form of a servant and went to the cross for our sakes. So many quarrels in the church and in our homes would evaporate if we would, with humility of mind, regard the other person as more important than ourselves! Related to this… C. Humility requires getting your focus off your rights and your needs and onto others’ needs: As the eternal Son of God to whom the Father had given all things into His hands, who had come forth from God and was going back to God as seen in John 13:3, Lord Jesus certainly had the right for the disciples to wash His feet. I’m sure that His feet were as dirty as theirs. But He wasn’t focused on His needs or His rights, but rather on their needs. They not only needed their dirty feet washed, but they also needed this lesson in humble service. Again, how many quarrels at church and in our homes would stop before they started if we would take our eyes off ourselves, our rights, and our needs, and instead think about the other person’s needs! A husband thinks, “I’ve worked hard all day, putting up with hassles at work so that I can provide for my family. Don’t I have a right to some peace and quiet when I come home at night?” Maybe, but that’s the wrong focus. Your focus should be on how you can serve your wife and children. The wife thinks, “I’ve been changing diapers, shopping for groceries with screaming kids, cleaning up messes all over the house, and trying to get dinner in time. Don’t I have a right for a little time for myself?” Maybe, but that’s the wrong focus. Humble service requires getting your focus off yourself and onto others’ needs. D. Humility requires receiving, not just giving: It’s easy to serve or to give to those in need out of pride. Peter’s unwillingness at first to let Lord Jesus serve him did not stem from humility, but from pride. It embarrassed him to think of Lord Jesus washing his feet. That implied that his feet were dirty and in need of washing! It would have served Peter’s pride much more if he had washed Lord Jesus’ feet. But Lord Jesus explained that if He didn’t wash Peter’s feet, then he had no part with Him. Many people are offended by the gospel or don’t see their need for it because they’re proud of their good works. They’re proud of all that they do for others. They view themselves as having clean feet. It would embarrass them to admit that their feet are dirty and that Lord Jesus needs to wash them. But to receive the gospel, you’ve got to recognize that your feet are filthy and that no one gets to heaven by washing his own feet or by washing others’ feet. You only get to heaven when you let Lord Jesus wash your feet. That leads to the third theme: 3. Christ’s cleansing your sins should be a reality in your life: His undeserved love should be a reality in your life. His example of humble service should be true in your experience. But foundational to everything else is your need to have Lord Jesus wash away your sins. So Lord Jesus’ action here foreshadows the cross. One writer, A. M. Hunter, (cited by Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans], p. 613) observes, “The deeper meaning then is that there is no place in His fellowship for those who have not been cleansed by His atoning death.” He points out that this episode pictures the truth of 1 John 1:7, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Many people today would like to be Christians but see no need of the cross; see no need to have their sins cleansed. They are ready to admire Lord Jesus’ life and to praise the sublimity of His moral teaching, but they cannot bring themselves to the reality of the fact and believe that Christ died for their sins, and that without that death they would be lost in sin. There are at least three reasons that we all need Jesus Christ to cleanse our sins: A. Cleansing is necessary because of who Lord Jesus is: As John begins his gospel as seen in 1:1, 14, Lord Jesus is the eternal Word who is God, who took on human flesh. He shared the glory of the Father, but willingly laid that aside so that He could come to bear the penalty for our sins on the cross. He is the Light of the world, absolutely pure, just as God is light as seen in John 8:12; 1 John 1:5. He spoke the very words of the Father to us as seen in John 7:16; 8:26, 28, 38. He lived a sinless life, so that He could rhetorically ask His critics as seen in John 8:46, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” Limiting ourselves to our text, we see that Lord Jesus is the eternal, omniscient one. He knew that His hour had come and that He would shortly be returning to the Father, with whom He had dwelled before the foundation of the world as seen in John 13:1. He knew that Judas would betray Him as seen in John 13:11. He knows each of us thoroughly. Also, Lord Jesus is the loving one. In spite of our weaknesses, failures and sins, which He knows very well in advance, He still loves us as His own children. Further, Lord Jesus is the sovereign one. The Father has given all things into Lord Jesus’ hands. He was in complete control of His own death. Neither Satan nor Judas could thwart God’s sovereign plan through the cross, but rather inadvertently fulfilled it. Lastly, Lord Jesus is the suffering servant who died for our sins. His example of humble, self-sacrificing service identifies Him as the servant of Isaiah 53. The Passover connection identifies Him as the Lamb of God who takes away our sins. When you come into the presence of the Holy One of God, you instantly recognize your need for cleansing. With Peter, you fall down at His feet and cry out as seen in Luke 5:8, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” B. Cleansing is necessary because of who we are: We all are guilty sinners in need of cleansing: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” as seen in Rom. 3:23. Nor is it instituting a third church ordinance of foot washing. Rather, Lord Jesus meant, “I must wash away your sins by My atoning death or you have no part with Me.” Lord Jesus mentions two types of cleansing as seen in John 13:10: “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” The bath refers to the once-for-all washing of regeneration as seen in Titus 3:5, when God cleanses us from all our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ also seen in Rom. 8:1; Heb. 10:10, 14. All the disciples, except Judas, were clean in this sense. But the foot washing refers to the ongoing application of that once-for-all cleansing to our daily lives. We can compare it to a boy who is adopted into a family. He becomes a full member of the family by virtue of his adoption. He can’t lose that standing. But in his daily relationship with his father, he may disobey or wrong his father. He doesn’t lose his sonship, but he does need to ask his father’s forgiveness so that their relationship can be close. In the same way, we stand before God completely forgiven through faith in Lord Jesus and His shed blood. But in our relationship with God, we often fail Him by sinning. We need to receive the ongoing cleansing for those sins that is symbolized by Lord Jesus washing our feet. Thus cleansing is necessary because of who Lord Jesus is and because of who we are. Finally C. Cleansing is necessary because of where we walk: We walk in this sinful world, so our feet get dirty. Again, if you have trusted in Christ, you are never so dirty that you need a complete bath again. But at the same time, although you have trusted in Christ, you are never so pure that you don’t need to get your feet washed again. It’s an ongoing process to maintain your relationship with the Lord Jesus. Sometimes, your feet get dirty because of deliberate sin. You choose to do what you know God’s Word forbids you to do because God gave you a free will. At those times, you need to confess your sin and appropriate the forgiveness that Christ secured for you by His death. At other times, you just feel defiled because of contact with this cruddy, dirty world. Maybe you’ve been bombarded with sensual advertisements or just the magazine covers at the supermarket checkout, all these defiles the mind and your thinking working you up sensually somehow which you cannot deny and so requires to be confessed and needs forgiveness. Perhaps you’ve had to deal with worldly people at work, so the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life including cutting corners as seen in 1 John 2:16 “16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]” have left you feeling defiled. Those are the times to open your Bible and let “the washing of water with the word” as seen in Eph. 5:26 “26 So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word” cleanse and refresh your soul. Let or allow Lord Jesus wash your feet and have you cleansed!


Note, All those, and those only that are spiritually washed by Christ have a part in Christ. [1.] To have a part in Christ, or with Christ, has all the happiness of a Christian bound up in it, to be partakers of Christ as seen in Heb. 3:14 , to share in those inestimable privileges which result from a union with Him and relation to Him. It is that good part of having of which is the one thing needful. [2.] It is necessary to our having a part in Christ that He wash us. All those whom Christ owns and saves He justifies and sanctifies, and both are included in His washing them. We cannot partake of His glory if we partake not of His merit and righteousness, and of His Spirit and Grace. Peter is more than submission, his earnest request, to be washed by Christ, v. 9. If this be the meaning of it, Lord, wash not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. How soon is Peter’s mind changed! When the mistake of his understanding was rectified, the corrupt resolution of his will was soon altered. Let us therefore not be peremptory in any resolve (except in our resolve to follow Christ), because we may soon see cause to retract it, but cautious in taking up a purpose we will be tenacious of. Observe, (1.) How ready Peter is to recede from what he had said: "Lord, what a fool was I to speak such a hasty word!’’ Now that the washing of him appeared to be an act of Christ’s authority and grace he admits it; but disliked it when it seemed only an act of humiliation. Note, [1.] Good men, when they see their error, will not be loth to recant it. [2.] Sooner or later, Christ will bring all to be of His mind. (2.) How importunate or persistent, especially to the point of annoyance he is for the purifying grace of the Lord Jesus when after all he realised, and the universal influence of it, even upon his hands and head. Note, A divorce from Christ, and an exclusion from having a part in Him, is the most formidable evil in the eyes of all that are enlightened, for the fear of which they will be persuaded to anything. And for fear of this we should be earnest with God in prayer, that He will wash us, will justify and sanctify us. "Lord, that I may not be cut off from thee, make me fit for thee, by the washing of regeneration. Lord, wash not my feet only from the gross pollutions that cleave to them, but also my hands and my head from the spots which they have contracted, and the undiscerned filth which proceeds by perspiration from the body itself.’’ Note, Those who truly desire to be sanctified desire to be sanctified throughout, and to have the whole man, with all its parts and powers, purified as seen in 1 Th. 5:23. Christ’s further explication of this sign, as it represented spiritual washing. (1.) With reference to His disciples that were faithful to Him as seen in v.10: He that is washed all over in the bath (as was frequently practised in those countries, when he returns to his house, needeth not save to wash his feet, his hands and head having been washed, and he having only dirtied his feet in walking home. Peter had gone from one extreme to the other. At first he would not let Christ wash his feet; and now he overlooks what Christ had done for him in his baptism, and what was signified thereby, and cries out to have his hands and head washed. Now Christ directs him into the meaning; he must have his feet washed, but not his hands and head. [1.] See here what is the comfort and privilege of such as are in a justified state; they are washed by Christ, and are clean every whit, that is, they are graciously accepted of God, as if they were so; and, though they offend, yet they need not, upon their repentance, be again put into a justified state, for then should they often be baptized. The evidence of a justified state may be clouded, and the comfort of it suspended, when yet the charter of it is not vacated or taken away. Though we have occasion to repent daily, God’s gifts and callings are without repentance. The heart may be swept and garnished, and yet still remain the devil’s palace; but, if it be washed, it belongs to Christ, and he will not lose it. [2.] See what ought to be the daily care of those who through grace are in a justified state, and that is to wash their feet; to cleanse themselves from the guilt they contract daily through infirmity and inadvertence, by the renewed exercise of repentance, with a believing application of the virtue of Christ’s blood. We must also wash our feet by constant watchfulness against every thing that is defiling, for we must cleanse our way, and cleanse our feet by taking heed thereto as seen in Ps. 119:9 “9 How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it]”. The priests, when they were consecrated, were washed with water; and, though they did not need afterwards to be so washed all over, yet, whenever they went in to minister, they must wash their feet and hands at the laver, on pain of death as seen in Ex. 30:19, Ex. 30:20 . The provision made for our cleansing should not make us presumptuous, but the more cautious. I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? From yesterday’s pardon, we should fetch an argument against this day’s temptation. (2.) With reflection upon Judas: And you are clean, but not all as seen in vv. 10 - 11. He pronounces His disciples clean, clean through the word He had spoken to them as seen in John 15:3 “3 You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]”. He washed them Himself, and then said, You are clean; but He excepts Judas: not all; they were all baptized, even Judas, yet not all clean; many have the sign but does not have the thing signified. Note, [1.] Even among those who are called disciples of Christ, and profess relation to Him, there are some who are not clean as seen in Prov. 30:12 “12 There is a class of people who are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their own filth” . [2.] The Lord knows those that are His, and those that are not as seen in 2 Tim. 2:19 “19 But the firm foundation of (laid by) God stands, sure and unshaken, bearing this seal (inscription): The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names [himself by] the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it” . The eye of Christ can separate between the precious and the vile, the clean and the unclean. [3.] When those that have called themselves disciples afterwards prove traitors, their apostasy at last is a certain evidence of their hypocrisy all along. [4.] Christ sees it necessary to let His disciples know that they are not all clean; that we may all be jealous over ourselves (Is it I? Lord, is it I that am among the clean, yet not clean?) and that, when hypocrites are discovered, it may be no surprise nor stumbling to us. Christ washed His disciples’ feet to set before us an example. This explication He gave of what He had done, when He had done it as seen vv.12-17. Observe, 1. With what solemnity He gave an account of the meaning of what He had done as seen in v.12: After He had washed their feet, He said, Know you what I have done? (1.) He adjourned the explication till He had finished the transaction, [1.] To try their submission and implicit obedience. What He did they should not know till afterwards, that they might learn to acquiesce in His will when they could not give a reason for it. [2.] Because it was proper to finish the riddle before He unriddled it. Thus, as to His whole undertaking, when His sufferings were finished, when He had resumed the garments of His exalted state and was ready to sit down again, then He opened the understandings of His disciples, and poured out His Spirit as seen in Luke 24:45, 46. (2.) Before He explained it, He asked them if they could construe it: Know you what I have done to you? He put this question to them, not only to make them sensible of their ignorance, and the need they had to be instructed as seen in Zec. 4:5, Zec. 4:13 , Knowest thou not what these be? and I said, No, my Lord ), but to raise their desires and expectations of instruction: "I would have you know, and, if you will give attention, I will tell you.’’ Note, It is the will of Christ that sacramental signs should be explained, and that His people should be acquainted with the meaning of them; otherwise, though ever so significant, to those who know not the thing signified they are insignificant. Hence they are directed to ask, What mean you by this service? As seen in Ex. 12:26 . (3.) Upon what grounds that which He had to say as seen in v. 13: "13 You call Me the Teacher (Master) and the Lord, and you are right in doing so, for that is what I am.” You call me Master and Lord, you give Me those titles, in speaking of Me, in speaking to Me, and you say well, for so I am; you are in the relation of scholars to Me, and I do the part of a Master to you.’’ Note, (1.) Jesus Christ is our Master and Lord; He that is our Redeemer and Saviour is, in order to that, our Lord and Master. He is our Master, didaskalos —our teacher and instructor in all necessary truths and rules, as a prophet revealing to us the will of God. He is our Lord, kyrios —our ruler and owner, that has authority over us and propriety in us. (2.) It behoves the disciples of Christ to call Him Master and Lord, not in compliment, but in reality; not by constraint, but with delight. Devout Mr. Herbert, when he mentioned the name of Christ, used to add, my Master; and thus expresses himself concerning it in one of his poems: How sweetly doth my Master sound, my Master! As ambergris leaves a rich scent unto the taster, So do these words a sweet content, an oriental fragrance, my Master.(3.) Our calling Christ Master and Lord is an obligation upon us to receive and observe the instruction He gives us. Christ would thus pre-engage their obedience to a command that was displeasing to flesh and blood. If Christ be our Master and Lord, be so by our own consent, and we have often called Him so, we are bound in honour and honesty to be observant of Him. (4.) The lesson which He hereby taught: You also ought to wash one another’s feet, as seen in v.14 “14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher (Master), have washed your feet, you ought [it is your duty, you are under obligation, you owe it] to wash one another’s feet”. (1.) Some have understood this literally, and have thought these words amount to the institution of a standing ordinance in the church; that Christians should, in a solemn religious manner, wash one another’s feet, in token of their condescending love to one another. St. Ambrose took it so, and practised it in the church of Milan. St. Austin saith that those Christians who did not do it with their hands, yet (he hoped) did it with their hearts in humility; but he saith, It is much better to do it with the hands also, when there is occasion, as seen in 1 Tim. 5:10 . What Christ has done Christians should not disdain to do. Calvin saith that the pope, in the annual observance of this ceremony on Thursday in the passion week, is rather Christ’s ape than His follower, for the duty enjoined, in conformity to Christ, was mutual: Wash one another’s feet. And Jansenius saith, It is done, Frigidè et dissimiliter—Frigidly, and unlike the primitive model. (2.) But doubtless it is to be understood figuratively; it is an instructive sign, but not sacramental, as the eucharist. This was a parable to the eye; and three things our Master hereby designed to teach us:—[1.] A humble condescension. We must learn of our Master to be lowly in heart as seen in Mt. 11:29, and walk with all lowliness; we must think meanly of ourselves and respectfully of our brethren, and deem nothing below us but sin; we must say of that which seems mean, but has a tendency to the glory of God and our brethren’s good, as David as seen in 2 Sa. 6:22 , If this be to be vile, I will be yet more vile. Christ had often taught His disciples humility, and they had forgotten the lesson; but now He teaches them in such a way as surely they could never forget. [2.] A condescension to be serviceable. To wash one another’s feet is to stoop to the meanest offices of love, for the real good and benefit one of another, as blessed Paul, who, though free from all, made himself servant of all; and the blessed Jesus, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. We must not grudge to take care and pains, and to spend time, and to diminish ourselves for the good of those to whom we are not under any particular obligations, even of our inferiors, and such as are not in a capacity of making us any requital. Washing the feet after travelling contributes both to the decency of the person and to his ease, so that to wash one another’s feet is to consult both the credit and the comfort one of another, to do what we can both to advance our brethren’s reputation and to make their minds easy. See 1 Co. 10:24 ; Heb. 6:10 . The duty is mutual; we must both accept help from our brethren and afford help to our brethren. [3.] A serviceableness to the sanctification one of another: You ought to wash one another’s feet, from the pollutions of sin. Austin takes it in this sense, and many others. We cannot satisfy for one another’s sins, this is peculiar to Christ, but we may help to purify one another from sin. We must in the first place wash ourselves; this charity must begin at home as seen in Mt. 7:5 , but it must not end there; we must sorrow for the failings and follies of our brethren, much more for their gross pollutions as seen in 1 Co. 5:2 , must wash our brethren’s polluted feet in tears. We must faithfully reprove them, and do what we can to bring them to repentance as seen in Gal. 6:1, and we must admonish them, to prevent their falling into the mire; this is washing their feet. [4.] Here is the ratifying and enforcing of this command from the example of what Christ had now done: If I your Lord and Master have done it to you, you ought to do it to one another. He shows the cogency of this argument in two things:—(1.) I am your Master, and you are My disciples, and therefore you ought to learn of Me as seen in v. 15); for in this, as in other things, I have given you an example, that you should do to others as I have done to you. Observe, [1.] What a good teacher Christ is. He teaches by example as well as doctrine, and for this end came into this world, and dwelt among us, that He might set us a copy of all those graces and duties which His holy religion teaches; and it is a copy without one false stroke. Hereby He made His own laws more intelligible and honourable. Christ is a commander like Gideon, who said to his soldiers, Look on me, and do likewise as seen in Jdg. 7:17 ; like Abimelech, who said, What you have seen me do, make haste and do as I have done as seen in Jdg. 9:48 ; and like Caesar, who called his soldiers, not milites—soldiers, but, commilitones—fellow-soldiers, and whose usual word was, not Ite illue, but Venite huc; not Go, but Come. [2.] What good scholars we must be. We must do as He hath done; for therefore He gave us a copy, that we should write after it, that we might be as He was in this world as seen in 1 Jn. 4:17 , and walk as He walked, as seen in 1 Jn. 2:6 . Christ’s example herein is to be followed by ministers in particular, in whom the graces of humility and holy love should especially appear, and by the exercise thereof they effectually serve the interests of their Master and the ends of their ministry. When Christ sent His apostles abroad as His agents, it was with this charge, that they should not take state upon them, nor carry things with a high hand, but become all things to all men, as seen in 1 Co. 9:22 . What I have done to your dirty feet that do you to the polluted souls of sinners; wash them. Some who suppose this to have been done at the Passover supper think it intimates a rule in admitting communicants to the Lord’s-supper, to see that they be first washed and cleansed by reformation and a blameless conversation, and then take them in to compass God’s altar. But all Christians likewise are here taught to condescend to each other in love, and to do it as Christ did it, unasked, unpaid; we must not be mercenary in the services of love, nor do them with reluctance. [3.] I am your Master, and you are My disciples, and therefore you cannot think it below you to do that, how mean so ever it may seem, which you have seen Me do, for as seen in v.16 the servant is not greater than His Lord, neither He that is sent, though sent with all the pomp and power of an ambassador, greater than He that sent Him. Christ had urged this as seen in Mt. 10:24, Mt. 10:25 as a reason why they should not think it strange if they suffered as He did; here He urges it as a reason why they should not think it much to humble themselves as He did. What He did not think a disparagement to Him, they must not think a disparagement to them. Perhaps the disciples were inwardly disgusted at this precept of washing one another’s feet, as inconsistent with the dignity they expected shortly to be preferred to. To obviate such thoughts, Christ reminds them of their place as His servants; they were not better men than their Master, and what was consistent with His dignity was much more consistent with theirs. If He was humble and condescending, it ill became them to be proud and assuming. Note, [1.] We must take good heed to ourselves, lest Christ’s gracious condescensions to us, and advancements of us, through the corruption of nature occasion us to entertain high thoughts of ourselves or low thoughts of Him. We need to be put in mind of this, that we are not greater than our Lord. [2.] Whatever our Master was pleased to condescend to in favour to us, we should much more condescend to in conformity to Him. Christ, by humbling Himself, has dignified humility, and put an honour upon it, and obliged His followers to think nothing below them but sin. We commonly say to those who disdain to do such or such a thing, As good as you have done it, and been never the worse thought of; and true indeed it is, if our Master has done it. When we see our Master serving, we cannot but see how ill it becomes us to be domineering. So ask yourself three questions: (1) Do I consistently experience Christ’s undeserved love? If not, you need to figure out why not and get that problem resolved. (2) Do I consistently follow Christ’s example of humble service? If not, jot down some specific ways that you can begin this week. (3) Do I consistently come to Christ for cleansing from my sins and from the crud of this dirty world? If not, He’s waiting with the basin and the water of His word to wash your feet!


Father, enable me to understand that in Your kingdom it is only those who come to You with empty hands who receive. Humbly I acknowledge that I cannot find happiness through my own efforts. I need Your help. In Your name Lord Jesus I pray. Amen!