Wash One Another’s Feet, John 13:12-20

“So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.’” John 13:12-15.

“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.” Jesus reminds them here of His authority by saying you call Me Teacher and Lord; He is the One to instruct and the One to obey.

However, in the next sentence He reverses the order, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

Now He tells them that it is God over all, who stooped to wash their feet, emphasizing the fact that it is the Lord who is speaking, not just a teacher, they, and we need to take these things to heart.

“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:15.

Many people carelessly read the Scriptures and misinterpret the things they read, especially the more difficult passages, opening them up to error.

Since these things are spiritually discerned, all of the unsaved, those without the Holy Spirit, are incapable of understanding even the most basic of principles.

As a result both Christians and the religious fall into a ditch and some of the gravest of heresies become chiseled in stone in the church.

For this reason religious leaders and kings throughout the centuries have engaged in the practice of foot washing as a sign of their humility, usually once a year, and with a select few.

Ask yourself, who does this benefit, well the one having his feet washed may feel honored that he was selected; the person doing the washing may think that this is a terribly humble thing to do and be proud of their humility, but where is Christ?

Ritual foot washing does nothing more than make the participants feel good about their religiosity for a few minutes and then they return to being the same person they were before.

It is God’s intention to save a person and to change them into the image of Christ.

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.” Galatians 6:15.

So then foot washing, as an act is basically useless, but when it is emblematic of the care we are to give one another, both to Christians and to those who are unsaved, it becomes beneficial.

Christians have opened hospitals, orphanages, rescue missions, safe houses for battered women, organizations to rescue women and children from the sex trade, missionary doctors and nurses, hospices, food banks, and ministered to those on the streets; this list may not be complete.

This is washing one another’s feet, as Christ commissioned it; not a ritual. This is humbling ourselves to minister, the saved and unsaved; the downtrodden are not beneath us, they are our peers, loved by Christ; the humbling comes in knowing this.

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:6-10.

The same foot washing is done by Christians when they listen to those in despair, comfort those going through trials, pray for one another, feed the sick, help the helpless, care for widows, take time to learn about others within the church, listen, really listen, invite one another to lunch or dinner, visit the housebound, write and donate to missionaries, the list goes on.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.

The Christian does not have to do all of this, maybe there is even another way to minister Christ; but do not just go to church and go home until next Sunday.

God will reveal what He has for you to do, and it will be something that appeals to you, it may just be shaking hands with someone new at church.

Christian service is not all swatting mosquitoes in some far off rainforest.

Often it may be the new Christian’s task to sit and absorb the things God is teaching them; they will serve just by being friendly and kind, time will open their eyes to their part in the body of Christ.

Jesus said to His disciples that as their Lord, He has given them “…an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:15b. This is something that should be done as a matter of course, it is not a suggestion.

Often, men with great authority in the church whose word is law may minister to people from the pulpit, and encourage them to go out and do good works or donate more money for their projects; these same actually have those under them doing all the foot washing.

There is a certain pride that goes along with such authority; perhaps not intentional, but it creeps in, and such men begin to think of themselves as superior to the flock, as the Pharisees did.

This is what Jesus is speaking of in the next verse, and He says it with great emphasis, “Most assuredly…”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.” John 13:16.

If the Creator of the cosmos can kneel to wash the feet of His sinful creatures (He washed Judas’ feet too) how can those who serve Him think that they are too good to do the same?

Yet, man has created a myriad of offices and hierarchies, and men in high places sit in their ivory towers and theorize about what God meant by this or that and worse yet discuss the teachings of some other intellect’s theological ramblings.

This is great for developing an elitist attitude but it does nothing to forward the gospel of Christ.

“How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” John 5:44.

Consider just how humbling this was for God the Son to kneel before His creatures and wash their feet.

Consider how much greater the humbling when He allowed Himself to be subjected to the vile accusations of an illegal gathering of men who sat in judgment of the Creator God.

How humiliating to be punched, slapped, spat upon, led about as a common criminal, laughed at, whipped, stripped, nailed to a cross, and mocked.

All the while at least 36,000 to 72,000 angels must have stood by grinding their teeth while they awaited the word to go to His aid. I can only surmise that many of them went to the farthest parts of heaven and wept as He hung from the cross.

“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:17-21.

Men still mock His name and defile His person with the grossest of evil suggestions.

“Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:28-31.

Still, where there is life there is hope for everyone even the worst of sinners.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.

“If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” John 13:17.

The last phrase means “happy are you if you practice them”. The Lord has taught us something about humility and service; it is meant for us to practice these things not have them as mere head knowledge.

“I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.” John 13:18-19.

In saying, I do not speak of all of you, Jesus is referring to His betrayer Judas Iscariot. He then quotes a prophecy from the Old Testament about another man who betrayed King David. This betrayal happened to both David and his greater Son, Jesus Christ.

“Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9.

The first phrase “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted…” is omitted by Jesus because He knew Judas was not His friend, and was untrustworthy. In spite of this Judas was loved by Jesus, treated like a friend and was entrusted with the money box.

Jesus went on to tell the disciples that He was letting them know beforehand so they would not be blindsided by Judas’ treachery and realize that He was the one referred to in the prophecy in Psalm 41:9.

The background on Psalm 41:9 is very fascinating, so I hope that I can do it justice.

The problem that brought on this passage in Psalm 41 was the rebellion of King David’s vain son Absalom, who managed to rout David out of Jerusalem and send him fleeing with his household and a large group of followers into the wilderness.

Two men, Hushai the Archite, David’s friend and Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather a man whose counsel “…was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God”, also thought to be David’s friend.

Of these men Hushai remained faithful to David and stayed behind in Jerusalem and pretended to follow the rebellious Absalom hoping to misdirect him.

Ahithophel on the other hand followed Absalom and became his advisor telling him how to destroy King David. Ahithophel’s advice, among other things, was as follows.

“Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Now let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and weak, and make him afraid. And all the people who are with him will flee, and I will strike only the king. Then I will bring back all the people to you. When all return except the man whom you seek, then all the people will be at peace.’ And the saying pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.” 2 Samuel 17:1-4.

Ahithophel’s advice was good and would likely have worked, but not against God’s anointed king.

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me, ‘says the Lord.’” Isaiah 54:17.

Things go sideways for Ahithophel when Absalom decides to ask for the advice of Hushai, David’s friend in secret, his reply is recorded in 2 Samuel 17:5-14.

His advice would have been just as deadly, but the difference was that Absalom was to gather all of Israel until they were:

“…like the sand that is by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person.” 2 Samuel 17:11b.

Hushai appealed to Absalom’s vanity by telling him to lead the army, buying time for David by having him waste time gathering the whole nation.

Well, everybody thought this was great advice and decided against Ahithophel’s plan. The kicker to this whole story is what Ahithophel did next.

“Now when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb.” 2 Samuel 17:23.

Then Judas “Threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.” Matthew 27:5.

Is that creepy or what?

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” John 13:20.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21.

Wash One Another’s Feet, John 13:12-20 taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 3-2-13, updated on 1-12-18.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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