Summary: Jesus had so little time left for the disciples to learn that the way to glory is through service and not through position and authority. How could Jesus get the message across forcibly enough so that they would never forget the truth? This is what led
Three weeks in John 13. Just before tonight’s passage, as recorded in Luke 22 and Mk. 10, the disciples had been arguing over who would hold the leading positions in the government Jesus was about to set up. The discussion was heated. They were caught up in the ambition for position and power and authority.
Surely this was discouraging to Jesus. He had so little time left for them to learn that the way to glory is through service and not through position and authority. (Oh if only some Christians in churches today could learn that same message.) How could Jesus get the message across forcibly enough so that they would never forget the truth? This is what led Jesus to wash the disciples’ feet and to demonstrate what true royalty is: serving others.
VERSE 1. This event took place right before the Passover. It was in the upper room where so many significant events took place.
VERSE 2. Here we see the momentum for royal service. Three things drove Jesus to wash the disciples’ feet and to demonstrate the royalty of service and ministry.
1. He knew His hour had come. His time was short. He would die soon. Whatever He hoped to teach His disciples had to be taught now.
2. He loved His own—His followers on earth. His own also includes all those in both heaven and earth who are followers of Him. He loved them all. He was compelled to do whatever was necessary to help them, no matter the cost. He was compelled to wash their feet, no matter the humiliation.
3. He knew His enemy, and He knew the enemy was about to strike and betray Him. He had to act before the enemy struck. The disciples had to be strengthened and fortified. Once the enemy struck, it would be too late.
And when we think about all this, the same 3 things should drive every believer to serve and to serve now.
1. Knowing the time, the hour, has come, the time is short.
2. Loving his own; those for whom the believer is responsible.
3. Knowing the enemy and that he is going to strike soon and with all the force he can.
VERSES 3-5. Here is the extreme demonstration of royal service. Would you stoop so low? (Expound on foot-washing service at Galveston mission trip). Jesus knew who He was. He knew His glorious position as the Son of God, yet He humbled Himself. Note exactly what He said.
He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands; all power and authority and glory and honor—all beings both in heaven and earth—all administration (Ministry) and rule—all judgment and responsibility for saving the universe.
Still, knowing all this, Jesus took off His outer clothing and began to wash the feet of men. Despite of who He was, He gave the most extreme demonstration of service possible. He chose the most extreme act possible to demonstrate that there is royalty in service and ministry. Washing people’s feet was the lowliest of jobs for the lowliest of slaves.
VERSE 6-11. The prerequisite for royal service is that of being washed and cleansed. What happened now was critical for every person who claimed to be a follower and a servant of the Lord. The crucial point is the statement Peter made in verse 8. READ.
There was a deeper meaning to what Jesus was doing, a spiritual meaning. A person had to be washed and cleansed by Jesus before he can become a part of Jesus, before he can serve Jesus. So before you can ever serve Christ, you must be a part of Christ, and before you can become a part of Christ, you must be washed and cleansed by Christ.
Washing and cleansing are misunderstood. Peter saw Jesus washing everyone’s feet and felt it was too humiliating a thing for his Lord to do. So Peter said no. But Peter only saw the human and physical act of Jesus in serving him and the others.
And people today still misunderstand all this. They misunderstand the mission and service that Jesus came to wash and cleanse men from their sin and death, that He came to cleanse men in His blood that they might be acceptable to God, and that He came to cleanse men that they might be fit to serve God, both now and forever.
Washing and cleansing have a deeper meaning, a spiritual meaning. Peter didn’t understand at first, but he did after the resurrection. Today there’s really no excuse for not understanding what Jesus was doing.
Once Jesus explained to Peter that unless he allows his feet to be washed he couldn’t be part of Jesus, then Peter wanted to be washed all over. He cried out for a whole cleansing. He wanted to be washed through and through.