[John 13] Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet: Have you ever washed another person’s feet? Jesus unequivocally commands us to do so, but curiously the church has marginalized this practice. In washing His closest followers’ feet, Jesus doesn’t leave out Judas who is to betray him and, in so doing, teaches us an important truth that we should incorporate into our lives if we are to be so bold as to consider ourselves His servants in the earth.
[Jhn 13:1-20 KJV] 1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s [son], to betray him; 3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe [them] with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also [my] hands and [my] head. 10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash [his] feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for [so] I am. 14 If I then, [your] Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. 19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am [he]. 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
In chapter 13 of John, we see Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. If you have traveled to Israel, you know that the place where Jesus did this was just below the upper room and immediately adjacent to King David’s tomb, where prayer goes up day and night among the Jews in the present day. In choosing this location to humble Himself so Jesus was conspicuously acting as the Servant-King, ministering to His disciples, demonstrating to them the depth of His love and the love wherewith He exhorted them to walk in toward one another. It is telling that now is the moment that Satan takes full possession of Judas in his traitorous intent to betray Jesus to the high priests. This is a lesson for all of us. If ever the love of God makes itself known in your life it will not always bring out the best in those around you. Why did Judas do this? The fact that He committed suicide in the aftermath of the crucifixion shows that he expected something different than what actually happened. He had a plan and was trying to force Jesus’ hand, perhaps in some way. Love – the love of God in your life, will, at times, compel betrayal among those you are most vulnerable to, and you must bear that in mind and commit to maintaining the love of God in your heart regardless of the results. We do not love others with an end in mind. We love others because, as sons of God, we choose no other path than that which exemplifies His character.
What about washing feet? Interestingly, Jesus speaks about this practice in much the same language as water baptism and the taking of communion in remembrance of His death until He comes. Baptism and communion are codified ordinances of the church. Still, mainstream Christianity conveniently and curiously ignores washing feet. However, Jesus states unequivocally in verse 14 that we ought to wash one another’s feet according to the example that He set for His disciples and by extension for us. Perhaps the washing of feet was not considered that necessary because we have no record of any of the apostles of the Lamb performing this act on one another afterward. What a curious omission on their part again, when Jesus states without ambiguity that we should do this.
Have you ever washed another person’s feet after the example that Jesus sets for us? It is a life-changing experience. Humility is a very powerful thing and in an act of humility, spiritual forces are set in action that can radically impact your life and the lives of those involved. Do not let another day go by until you wash one another’s feet. Does this thought give you pause? Then repent of pride, for pride goes before a fall. Does it make you nervous? Then tear down the walls by which you maintain distance from those around you at get real with them and get real before God.
Whose feet do you wash? The feet of those closest to you. The feet of that person in your life that you know has betrayal in his or her heart toward you all the while protesting that they are your best friend. When relationships or situations are stagnant, and you want to break through whether in a family circumstance, or a ministry or a church, wash the feet of those involved, specifically if you are a leader. What will happen? You will see what is in them made manifest as in the case of Judas.
[Jhn 13: 21-38 KJV] 21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. 23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped [it]. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave [it] to Judas Iscariot, [the son] of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29 For some [of them] thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy [those things] that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. 31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. 36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. 37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. 38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
Having washed the disciples’ feet and disclosed the fact of a traitor in their midst, Jesus is visibly troubled. Can you imagine this? We usually insulate ourselves emotionally from those we know do not love faithfully but Jesus yet loves Judas just as He loves the other disciples as well. Simon Peter wants to know who the betrayer is and motions to John to ask this of Jesus. This tells us much about Peter and much about John. Peter still wants to take matters into his own hands. Of all the 12 Peter has more in common with Judas than all of them. So much so that Jesus has already called him Satan himself because he tried to control and to manage Jesus according to his own ideas as to whether or not Jesus should allow himself to be crucified. As for John notice how he was identified as the disciple leaning on Jesus bosom, the disciple whom Jesus loved. There was something different about John. His disposition toward Jesus was very much like Mary the sister of Martha. We can see Mary at Jesus’ feet, capturing every word out of His mouth, and John with His head on Jesus’ shoulder, unashamed, looking up into the Master’s eyes, drinking of His Spirit.
John asks who the betrayer might be, and Jesus reveals it with a ceremonial act of giving a sop from the meal, which in ancient cultures was a great honor. Thus we see Jesus humbling Himself and honoring His enemy. Let this be a lesson for you in similar situations when you know others close to you are not faithful in their love. As Judas receives this honor – Satan entirely takes him, and Jesus commands, “whatever you are about to do, do it quickly…” The disciples don’t understand what is happening, but Judas departs, and immediately darkness falls.
For Jesus (v. 31), this is a culminating moment when the Son of man will be glorified, and God will be glorified in Him. He looks at the disciples now as little children and tells them that but a little while He will be with them and where He goes, they cannot follow. What do we do in times when such struggles come into our lives, and all around us are cast into weakness and darkness? Love one another v. 34 commands. When we are under pressure, and our plans falter, they can bring out the worst in us. Always remember and always allow love – determine that love will be what manifests in your life when things fall apart—love one another – a new command that supersedes all else and yet can seem the most difficult.
Simon Peter doesn’t like the tenor of Jesus’ words and insists that unlike the other disciples, he will stand by Jesus to the death. Jesus turns His gaze upon Peter and assures him that despite all his bravado, he will indeed deny Jesus three times before the morning sun makes its appearance.
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