Summary: The way to be elevated in the eyes of God, is to descend in humility to the service of others.
Did you know that you can actually reach higher ground by bowing low? You can descend in such a way so as to actually reach higher elevations!
Jesus showed how… On the last night that He spent with His disciples before being crucified, Jesus taught some profound lessons in a simple act of service. He had taught them these truths before… but in a vivid way, He lived it out before them so that they could experience it. What did He do? He washed His disciples’ feet.
Review of the narrative...
Scene 1: Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet (vv. 1-5)
The story opens in an Upper Room where the disciples had prepared the Passover Meal to be shared with Jesus. It would be His last Passover He would spend with His best friends before being arrested and crucified.
Though the disciples were probably not aware of it at the time, this meal, and the events of this night, were of extraordinary significance.
In ancient days, people wore sandals. As such, their feet would become dirty with the dust of the ground whenever they went anywhere. So, it was customary for a servant to wash the feet of guests who came into a home. But in this Upper Room, there were only the 12 disciples and Jesus. They were there privately. There was no servant attending to them.
· Can you imagine this scene?
There were the utensils for foot washing right there for everyone to see. There was the bowl, there was the pitcher of water, there was the linen towel… yet nobody moved to take the position of servant.
This was a grand opportunity for Jesus to teach some profound lessons to His disciples, and to us today…
In an extraordinary move, Jesus, the Lord of Glory, stood up, laid aside His garments, and carefully and tenderly washed the dirty feet of His own disciples! (vv. 4-5)
Scene 2: Peter Protests Jesus (vv. 6-11)
Then Jesus comes to the feet of Peter – and he protests.
· Peter says, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" (v. 6).
The words “You” and “my” are emphatic in the Greek. It should sound incredulous – “Lord, are You, of all people, going to wash my feet?”
· Jesus answers, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” (v. 7)
Jesus wanted to demonstrate a principle that the disciples would not fully comprehend that evening, but after Jesus died and rose again, they would understand its significance more fully.
(NOTE: We often resist what the Lord is doing with us – we don’t understand it at the moment, so we pull away. But all things happen in our lives for a purpose.)
· Peter says, “Never shall You wash my feet!”
Peter was an impulsive, passionate man who often spoke and acted before thinking:
1. He was the one who scoffed at the idea of throwing his nets back into the sea, only to be astonished at the great catch of fish. (Luke 5:4-6)
2. He was the one who walked on water toward Jesus in faith, then got caught up in the fear of the waves and started to sink (Matt 14:29-30).
3. He was the one who confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” only to later be called Satan by the One whom He confessed! (Matt 16:16, 23)
4. He was the one who impulsively suggested that they build 3 tabernacles on the mountaintop for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus when He was transfigured before them. (Mark 9:5)
5. And here he was impulsively denying Jesus from doing something of profound importance because he didn’t understand the full meaning of it.
Peter was probably trying to convey His high regard for Jesus. Despite what all the other disciples did, he wasn’t going to let the promised Messiah stoop to such a level to clean his dirty feet!
Scene 3: Jesus Explains the Meaning (vv. 12-17)
You may be aware that some churches have regular “foot-washing” ceremonies, and many consider it a sacrament, like communion and baptism?
· Is this what Jesus intended?
I believe that a foot washing ceremony can be a powerful and special service for a church to participate in… but I don’t believe that that was Jesus’ intention in John 13.
Jesus washed His disciples’ feet in order to demonstrate heavenly principles. You could consider His actions as a “living parable.” He wanted to teach us some important lessons by means of a living example.
KEY VERSE: "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. (John 13:15)
EMPHASIZE: The whole mission of Jesus’ life is captured in these 17 verses!
On this last night that Jesus would spend with His disciples before being arrested and crucified, He gave a vivid expression of what His life meant, and how He wanted to see the principles of His life reproduced in the lives of all who came after Him…this includes us!