Their feet in His loving Hands?! Devotional Commentary for May 21-27
We apologize for fialing to send the Weekly Devotional on May 14 2023. We had a major equipment failure. Thank you for your understanding.
John 13:1-11 (NASB)
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
Who can separate us from the Love of God!
13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
For nearly three and a half years, Jesus continued with His ministry in Galilee and Judea, calling sinners to repentance, healing the sick, restoring the disabled, and setting free those who languished in demonic possession. After Peter and the sons of Zebedee followed Him leaving their fishing business, He called the rest of the Disciples ultimately gathering the Twelve including Judas, called for a different Purpose. When the time for the fulfillment of the ultimate Purpose for which He came to earth arrived, Jesus assembled His Disciples at the table of the last Passover meal for a special time of fellowship and instruction.
This great occasion took place during the week of our Lord's Crucifixion, Death, Burial, and ultimately His Resurrection. It was the evening immediately preceding the Day of Jesus' Crucifixion. It was a solemn feast celebrating the last Passover meal and the first Communion of the Lord's Supper.
Jesus was acutely aware that He would soon return to His Father from whence He came, having fulfilled His Father's Will. Although that was His rightful place, He felt the pain of parting with these men. His love, His compassion, His concern for them was boundless. As His own time of anguish pressed so closely on Him, He did not become withdrawn or despondent. Instead, He assured them that He loved them intensely to the end. Because He loved them to the end, He revealed the Truth to them precept by precept.
2During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him,
3Jesus, 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,
4got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.
5Then 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.
The plan to betray Jesus was already in motion. Fortuitously to the Jewish authorities yet in keeping with the Father's Plan and Purpose, one of Jesus’ own Disciples was willing to lead them to Jesus so that they could arrest Him. Satan had already captured Judas’ heart. So Judas made his deal with the Jewish authorities to betray his Master for thirty pieces of silver. All of the apprehensions and concerns of the Sanhedrin were minimized by this great stroke of fortune. Maybe, they were hopeful that they could quietly put Jesus away without being noticed by the Passover crowd.
Jesus was not surprised by any of this. He knew what was determined, what was taking place, and what was about to happen. He purposed and planned it with His Father and came to earth to fulfill it. Jesus knew that all the events surrounding His suffering were given into the hands of Satan. He also knew that he was about to return to His Father from Whom He came.
Jesus’ home was not of this earth. It was not Bethlehem, where He was born. Nor was it Nazareth in Galilee, where He was raised by Mary and Joseph. His home is at the right hand of God. His throne is in the heavens. That is where He came from and now it is time for Him to return to His Father in heaven.
Having full knowledge and control of what was about to take place, Jesus took uncommon and totally unexpected steps to teach His Disciples enduring principles for life. Jesus rose from supper and put-off His garment. He then girded Himself with a towel. This must have been a strange sight to His Disciples. Nothing in their Jewish custom would justify such a behavior.
Certainly, a good host would provide a servant to offer services to the guests seated at meal, because such are the tasks of a household servant. But Jesus' behavior must have confused the Disciples. It was unusual and uncommon. The Disciples were probably embarrassed, confused, and anxious, because masters do not normally take the position of a household servant.
After taking the appearance and the position of a domestic servant, Jesus proceeded to offer His Disciples the menial services of a servile slave. Jesus took a basin of water and began to wash the Disciples’ feet, including Judas whom He knew was about to betray Him to His captors. Nothing like this has ever happened. Nothing like this has ever entered their ears, minds, or hearts. This was probably an embarrassing and confusing moment.
Each Disciple sat mute before Jesus as He stooped down and squatted at their feet; one by one including Judas. He simply washed their feet and dried them with the towel wrapped around His waist. Jesus Christ God the Son, the Lord of all creation, clothed in service rags stooped down at the feet of those who should be serving Him. He left His seat of honor, He put-off His garment, He dressed Himself in a service towel, He washed the feet of sinful men.
6So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?"
7Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter."
8Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."
9Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head."
10Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."
11For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean."
These solemn moments were interrupted by the soft sounds of resistance and insistence between a passionate Disciple and his loving Master. Peter could not keep silent. He would not let his Lord stoop down and wash his feet. He loved His Lord passionately. He probably felt that Jesus could not possibly be right doing such a servile task.
Peter refused to accept such a menial service. He could not imagine his Lord in a position of subservience. It seems that Peter had yet to meet Jesus the Christ, the humble servant Who obeyed His Father even to death on the Cross, being judged for the sin He did not commit.
But Jesus was patient and forgiving. He knew Peter well. He understood his passion and the consequent behavior, but Peter didn't. So, Jesus the Christ spoke to him with a double-edged Truth which pierced through his hard-shelled resistance and softened him into a position of acceptance and obedience.
Jesus openly acknowledged that neither Peter nor the Disciples could understand the full impact of what this simple task meant. He promised them that the time will come when they could put all of these events in perspective and fully appreciate the meaning of these last moments with their Master. Nevertheless, Peter still protested vehemently. It was unthinkable to him that his Lord should wash the feet of another, whose social status was lower.
Peter was focused on his passionate resistance because of his love for Jesus. But Jesus plainly showed him the consequence of his carnal sentiments. Jesus told Peter in no uncertain terms that, if He does not wash his feet, he would have no part with Him. That is, Peter would have remained with his feelings, nursing his passion and his impulses. This was far from what Peter had in mind when he said to Jesus: no washing.
We can never doubt the intensity of Peter’s love for his Lord. Peter was not merely a Disciple. He dearly loved the Man Who called him from his fishing nets by the Sea of Galilee. Nothing or no one was going to separate him from his Lord. Most certainly, not the washing of his feet. So, if washing his feet affirmed his part with Jesus, then Peter wanted to be wholly immersed in such a washing.
It seems that Peter did not get Jesus' message quite yet. Peter sought to be totally washed by Jesus so that his entire body would be clean. Why jus the feet, Peter may have pondered. Jesus reminded Peter that his body is clean because he is already washed. Only the part that gets dirty needs frequent washing.
Jesus washed everyone's feet. He washed both the clean and the unclean. In washing His Disciples' feet, Jesus did not merely perform a task. Nor did He mandate an ordinance. This wasn't about physical cleansing. It was about behavioral transformation. He humbled Himself before His Disciples. He served them. He set the example to emulate. That was the message Peter and the Disciples missed.
The Passover meal that Jesus shared with His Disciples was significant in many ways. It was the final feast marking the end of the foreshadowing rituals of the Temple ordinances. It was also the occasion during which Jesus offered the covenant of His broken Body and His shed Blood for the remission of sin. It was there that Jesus revealed to His Disciples that the time to finish the work for which He came was about to be accomplished, and that, the time for His ascension to His Father had come.
It is in those sacred chambers during this solemn feast that Jesus taught His Disciples to follow the example He set before them. He assumed the position of a servile slave and exercised Himself in the menial task of the lowest rung. He put-off His garment, dressed Himself in service rags, stooped down to the floor before each Disciple, and washed their feet one by one and dried them with the towel on His waist. He taught them to be humble and serve one another.
There is nothing wrong in washing each other's feet. But Jesus did not institute a new ordinance here. The essence of Jesus' lesson concerns: what needs to happen to us in order to do what we must as Christians.
Jesus humbled Himself to the lowest position of the human hierarchy. Jesus, the Lord of creation and the Son of God, left the splendor of heaven and stooped right down to the floor to serve His Disciples. He put Himself beneath His Disciples even though He was their rightful Lord and Master. Jesus consciously, willingly, and obediently assumed the position required by the task He accomplished. He did it without restraint. He was not inhibited by His Lordship over His Disciples.
Jesus exhorted His Disciples to do likewise; humble themselves and serve one another. That is, put-off all of their inhibitions and assume the position necessary for offering their services to one another. Essentially, Jesus taught His Disciples to hold one another on a higher esteem than themselves. That can be achieved only by putting themselves in a position of service to others. In this way, Jesus teaches us by Words and Action that our lives as Christians must be characterized by humbleness and by service.
These fundamental behavioral attributes identify us with our Lord Jesus Christ Who actually humbled Himself and served His Disciples from the position of a household servant. We too can teach and bless others by following Jesus' example, portraying His care, love, and grace in a meaningful and practical way. We are called to humble ourselves before God so that our self-denial would leave room for God's Grace and Power to be revealed in what we say and do. In our obedience to serve, the blessings of God will be conveyed to those whom we serve.
If we are washed by Jesus, then we have a part with Him. If we have a part with Him, then we follow His example in humbling ourselves and serving others. We disregard our self-assigned glory and pride because Christ is our glory.
"Oh to be like thee blessed Redeemer; That is our constant longing and prayer."