Summary: This parable in action sets forth the principle of lowly service and asks the followers of Jesus to be like Him, not like the world.
JOHN 13: 1-11
JESUS WASHES THE DISCIPLES’ FEET
In the earlier chapters Jesus had given His ministry to the people of Galilee and Jerusalem. In chapters 13 and following Jesus turns from an unbelieving world to minister the Father’s love to His inner circle of disciples. He gives these lasts days of love and instruction in the upper room to those who had devotedly opened their hearts to Him and His revelation.
Before the sustained discourse begins our Lord performs two significant actions. The first is the washing of the disciples feet. This humble service is poured out upon His companions and friends. God’s loves the world but displays it in special ways upon His close followers. These friends who experience the fullness of His love are requested to show it to others also. This parable in action sets forth the principle of lowly service and asks the followers of Jesus to be like Him, not like the world.
I. THE LOVE OF THE SOVEREIGN, 1-4.
II. THE ACT OF A SERVANT, 5-11.
The new section opens with verse1 setting the time for the event. 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.
The synoptic gospels tell us of the institution of the Lord’s Supper which John omits, including the dispute over which of the disciples would be the greatest. John though includes events which they omit. To John we owe this priceless teaching on the humble nature of our Lord.
Jesus is in complete command of the situation. He knows that His hour had come. It did not take Him by surprise. The hour for Jesus to complete the supreme task and reason He came into the world was at hand. The cross would decisively mark the end of Jesus’ visible earthly ministry. The way back to the Father was the way of the cross. Knowing His time is short Jesus chooses to concentrate on those He loves intimately.
Jesus “loved His own” refers to those disciples given Him by the Father (10:29). He had accepted responsibility for them and not only taught them and protected them (17:6-12), He loved them. “He loved them to the end” is bettered rendered “to the fullest extent,” or “utterly loved them.” He would go to the cross for them as the full and deepest possible expression of His love for them, and us.
In Lewis Carroll’s children’s classic Through the Looking-Glass, Humpty Dumpty argues with Alice over the MEANING OF A WORD. He said “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean.” That understanding seems to have cause on, but no where more than the word love. People seem to use the word love by bending it to fit whatever meaning they have in mind.
For example, a character in a modern novel says that the only reason he loves is for his own pleasure. Our soap-opera generation seems to agree. But Jesus didn’t have that kind of love in mind when He said He "loved His own," because He started washing their dirty feet. Why? For His own pleasure?