Summary: Part 3 of "Heavenly Cleansing" series. Jesus gave us a beautiful illustration of how each of us is to humbly minister to each other.


John 13:2-17

INTRO. Luke 22 tells us of a conversation that took place at the table just moments before this event took place (Lk. 22:24-27). Jesus is preparing to go to Calvary and He knows that soon after that He will be going back to the Father. The problem is that His apostles still do not fully understand the real meaning of the "Kingdom of God". (Rom. 14:17) - "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."

In order to try to get the point across in a way that they will remember it, Jesus presents them with a glorious object lesson.

A. (Background) In the hot, dusty country of Palestine, most people wore sandals and their feet became excessively dirty. A water basin sat at the entrance of most Jewish homes. Upon entering a person’s home, the poor would wash their own feet, and the rich would have a servant available to wash their feet.

Here we see Jesus as He takes on the role of a slave and begins to wash the dirty feet of the apostles. They had been arguing over who was to assume the leading positions in Christ’s government when He took over the kingdom. What Jesus did was demonstrate for them the way of true royalty -- which comes through humbling oneself to meet the needs of others.

B. (Description of the setting) (1) Jesus pushes back from the table, (2) removes His coat, (3) wraps a towel around His waist, (4) takes a basin of water, (5) kneels at the first apostle He comes to, (6) removes his sandals and (7) begins to wash the disciple’s feet.

C. What a beautiful picture of the mission of Christ....

See the blessed and holy Son of God as He rises from His position at the right hand of the Father. He, who spoke the worlds into existence willingly lays aside His glory so that He might gird Himself with the humble covering of humanity. Then He offers Himself as the very greatest of sacrifices for the well-being of others.

D. Then Jesus comes to Peter. Peter objects. In the Greek text, the syntax is arranged so as to place special emphasis on the pronouns...."Lord, dost thou wash my feet?"

E. Jesus then, being the master teacher that He is, takes this opportunity to give an explanation, an illustration, and a challenge to His disciples.


A. The prerequisite for proper service is that of being washed and cleansed. This is a critical point for every person who claims to be a follower and servant of the Lord.

"If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me"

{the word "wash" here, means to bathe, as opposed to a mere rinsing.}

1. Before a person can serve Christ according to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, that person must be made a part of Christ. However, before a person can become a part of Christ, he must be washed and cleansed by Christ.

2. Washing is meant to be a metaphor for salvation.

a. As essential and fundamental as this is, there are still many people who call themselves "Christian" who are trying to serve...trying to follow Christ, who have never been washed by the Saviour.

b. There is no excuse for not understanding what Jesus meant. (Tit. 3:3-5)

c. (Rev. 1:5) - "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood"

B. The Lord’s reply must have shattered Peter’s ego.

a. This was another version of the Lord’s earlier message to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again."

b. Without the new birth, even the great teacher, Nicodemus, would be unable to see the kingdom. Similarly, unless Peter were washed by Christ, his claims to discipleship would be null and void.

c. The Lord expressed a vital truth when, in so many words, He declared, "The people who are My disciples are washed by Me. Those who are not cleansed by Me do not belong to Me."


A. Upon recognizing what the Lord was talking about, Peter did what so many people do....he went to the opposite extreme. (Vs. 9)

B. Notice the beauty of the Master’s response. (Vs. 10)

1. It was quite normal in the oriental culture to find a large bath house that served the entire city. In returning home from the bath a man’s feet would get dirty and need rinsing, but not his whole body.

2. So the believer is cleansed from his lost and sinful state once for all. THIS IS SECURITY. But as he walks through the dirt of the world, he needs to come to Christ for a cleansing from the pollution which he has picked up.

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Stephen Drake

commented on Oct 4, 2006

This sermon is closer to the true meaning of the footwashing event in Jn. 13 than most. It still falls short of taking the isssue of forgiveness to it's clear focus. The washing event has little or nothing to do with humility or service. It is obvious both are present but neither is the intention of Jesus' teaching intent. Peter was certain that Jesus was teaching a lesson on humility and/or service; that's why he asked Jesus "Are you about to wash my feet too?" Jesus understood Peter's assumption, after all He was the Master and Peter was the servant. The role reversal was evident. But that Jesus had something else in mind is clear by His response, "What I am doing you don't understand now; you'll understand later." Had Jesus been addressing humility/service, He would have replied to Peter in the same way He responded to John the Baptist in the Jordan. John asked, "Do you come to me to be baptized; I should be baptized by You." Jesus responded, "Yes, but permit it to be so for now for thus it behooves us to fulfill all righteousness." Jesus was speaking about the cleansing of forgiveness as Brother Parnell points out. He is saying that if He, our Lord and Master has forgiven us (not only in the total forgiveness in the process of salvation but also...)our daily sins against God, we should also forgive one another their daily sins against us. Maranatha, sd

Rick Ballif

commented on Dec 2, 2006

This is a very good sermon, touching on the various teachings of Jesus in the passage. I have to take exception with the comment from Stephen Drake, "...little or nothing to do with humility or service." This passage, coming as it does in the context of the Lord's Supper, when questions of supremecy are raised, makes it clear that Jesus is indeed teaching His disciples concerning the importance of humility and service. He is as well teaching concerning salvation and sanctification. It is important to remember who the teacher is, and to realize that He often instructs on several different levels at one time. RB

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