John 13:1-17

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 1) This was the fourth Passover our Lord kept after He entered His public ministry – and the last; "for Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (I Cor. 5:7; Heb. 10:1-14). Every Passover lamb slain had been a type of Christ, the Lamb of God. No more need for pictures and patterns when "the Lamb of God" has died. Christ knew that "His hour," to which He had referred so frequently, had come. He came into the world to redeem His people through His perfect life and death. He would soon accomplish that death and return to the Father to be seated as the victorious Mediator on God's right hand (Heb. 1:1-3). Having loved His own (His sheep, His elect) with an everlasting, unchangeable love, He loved them continually, forever, even to death and FOREVER.

(Vs. 2) Many believe that the incident occurred BEFORE the supper and not AFTER the supper had ended, for it was the custom to have a servant to wash the dusty feet of the guests as they ENTERED the house. However, whether before or during the meal, we do know that Judas had already made arrangements with the priests to betray the Son of God for thirty pieces of silver.

(Vs. 3) These words express the omniscience, omnipotence, and oneness of Jesus Christ with the Father. He knows all things. He knew that the Father in covenant purpose had given a]l blessings, all power and authority, all persons and things, and all grace and glory into His hands (John 3:35: Heb. 2:8; Eph. 1:3). He knew that the Father had sent Him to accomplish the redemption of a people, that He would be victorious and return triumphantly to glory (Psalm 24).

(Vs. 4-5) The washing of feet was the lowest servile work and was done by the least in the house. Yet the eternal King of glory rose from His seat of honor, laid aside His robe, wrapped Himself in a large towel, and began to wash, tenderly and carefully, the dusty feet of each disciple. This task was never performed by superiors, but by inferiors to superiors, as by a wife to her husband or a servant to his master. This is why we find Peter objecting to such an act by his Master.

(Vs. 6) After having washed the feet of some of the disciples, He came to Simon Peter, who out of reverence to Christ, asked, surprised and astonished, "Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" Peter knew himself to be a sinful man (Luke 5:8), and he had confessed Christ to be the Son of God. He thought it too far below the dignity and character of His Lord to wash the feet of such a worthless creature as he was.

(Vs. 7) Peter knew what Christ was doing. As a common servant He was washing the feet of His disciples, but Peter did not know the meaning and teaching of the act. Christ said to him, "You do not understand now, but someday you will" (John 16:12). How we need to learn to wait upon the Lord's own time to make spiritual truth clear to us, meanwhile patiently submitting to His word and will!

(Vs. 8) Peter ought to have been satisfied with the Lord's reply and submitted to Him; but while he spoke at the first out of modesty and humility, he now spoke rashly and said, "You shall never wash my feet." The Lord replied, "If I wash thee not, you have no part with Me in redemption or in the kingdom of God." Christ is not speaking here of this simple act of washing Peter's feet, but He refers to the washing of regeneration and the cleansing in His precious blood. Unless a man is washed, cleansed, and purged from sin by the precious blood of Christ, he can have no part with Christ in glory (I John 1:7; I Peter 1:18-19).

(Vs. 9) Peter, convinced of his error, fearful of losing the hope he held in Christ, and conscious of his sins, says, "Lord, don't just wash my feet, but wash my hands and my head." He knew that he not only had walked in sin but had done evil and thought evil.

(Vs. 10) The Lord replied, "He that is washed" (that is, the person who is regenerated by the Spirit of God, called to faith in Christ, and washed in the blood of the Lamb) "does not need to be washed again." By one sacrifice and offering, Christ has cleansed, sanctified, and perfected all for whom He died. "They are clean every whit," all over within and without (Heb. 10:10-14: Col. 1:21-22). He only needs to have his feet washed. The reference is to people who have been to the bath and are clean all over and have no need to wash again except their feet, which may contact dust and dirt in coming from the bath. The believer is washed clean in Christ, and he needs not to be justified again; but he needs DAILY forgiveness and cleansing as he walks through this world. He needs constantly to be repenting and coming to Christ for forgiveness (I John 1:9; I John 2:1-2). "You are clean, washed and justified by My blood, but not all of you," for the hypocrite Judas was among them.

(Vs. 11) The Lord Jesus knew that Judas did not believe and would betray Him; therefore, Judas was not redeemed nor washed by the blood of Christ. His blood is effectual to the full salvation of all for whom He died and was not offered in vain for those who perish (Matt. 1:21; Johnl0:11; John 10:14-16; Isa. 53:11-12).

(Vs. 12-15) After He had washed their feet and put His robe back on, He sat down and said, "Do you understand what I have done to you?" He had taught them the truth of substitution, of cleansing from sin by His blood before God, of justification, and of the need for daily cleansing and forgiveness. Now He would teach them from the same act to behave in sincere and genuine HUMILITY and CONDESCENSION to one another. "You call me Lord and Master and you speak the truth, for I am King of kings and Lord of lords. If I, your Lord and Master, have not shunned the lowest service and the meanest task in My love for you and My willingness to serve the greater glory of God and your good, then you should follow My example and be willing to serve one another in the lowest and simplest tasks and station."

(Vs. 16-17) In Christ there is no great and small, no important and unimportant, but only sinners saved by His grace. We are all brethren! The servant is not greater than His Lord; and if our Lord is willing to humble Himself, shall we not do likewise? Happy are ye if you know this glorious truth by experience and perform the doing of it (Phil. 2:5-11; Mark 9:33-35; 10:42-45).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.