The time had come for Jesus’ life to end—the moment, in fact, for which He had been born. The wickedness of Satan had reached its climax and the plot against Jesus was already in play: Judas had chosen to betray the Saviour.
Jesus knew that His enemies were plotting to kill Him. All He had to do was walk away or call down ten thousand angels to destroy His adversaries. He could have done these or other things, but He didn’t. Instead, He calmly and humbly washed His disciples’ feet!
In this passage, we see Christ’s love and character and the example He set for us. Too many Christians today seek recognition and positions, forgetting this lesson in humility. In the picture Jesus painted for us we see:
* His willingness to leave heaven and come to earth, as seen in the act of rising from the table to serve;
* His willingness to lay aside His glory and position, as seen in the act of removing His outer garments before serving; and
* His willingness to become a servant, as seen in the act of wrapping a towel around His waist and stooping to wash His disciples’ feet.
Jesus is still cleansing people: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the LordJesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
Water symbolized the Word of God: “…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…” (Ephesians 5:25-26) God’s Word keeps us clean day by day.
Peter protested, however, and said to Jesus: “You shall never wash my feet.” (vs. 8) He thought he could clean up his own life, just as many do today. However, this is a hopeless task because we cannot clean up our lives on our own—we must be washed by Jesus. Peter was humbled when Jesus responded: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
We are washed completely at the moment of salvation: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…” (Titus 3:5)
During our Christian journey, as we walk in this dusty world of sin, our feet get dirty. That’s why Jesus told Peter that he did not need a bath—only his feet needed to be washed. We must be washed, refreshed and renewed daily. And, following the example of Jesus, we too must humble ourselves and serve. Verse 14 says, “You also should wash one another’s feet.” We must be willing to perform the most menial service for one other, doing the work of a servant.
Jesus was telling us to forgive one another, to be humble, and to carefully apply the Bible in our daily lives. Are you like Jesus with His basin and towel? Do you help others keep their feet clean?
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian