Summary: The quality of our relationship with Jesus Christ is dependent upon how we deal with personal sin.
Illustration: How Do You Get Into Heaven?
This question will bring a variety of answers. A confusion of views is evident in the following sampling of opinions gathered for the Radio Bible Class program ’Sounds of the Times’: (responses are mine)
· "God wouldn’t send you to hell." (New York) – Yes He would.
· "I’ll cross that bridge when I get there." (Boston) – Not if you don’t accept Jesus Christ before you die.
· "You have to believe in God." (Miami) – The devils believe and tremble.
· "There is nothing I can do about it." (New York) – Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
· "I don’t dare say that I know I’m going." (Los Angeles) – These things have I written that you may know that you have eternal life.
· "Keep the Ten Commandments." (San Francisco) – You can’t and you don’t.
· "How I live my life...being kind to other people." (Boston) – Kind people go to hell if they don’t know Jesus.
· "I couldn’t care less." (Boston) – Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
· "Be a good person." (Gainesville) – Good people go to hell every day.
I. WASHING IS SYMBOLIC. John 13:15
Example - NT:5262 - hupodeigma (hoop-od’-igue-mah); from NT:5263; an exhibit for imitation or warning. The idea here is for believers to follow this pattern of loving humility.
A. Washing Is Symbolic Of Condescension. John 13:4
1. He riseth from supper: symbolic of the fellowship He enjoyed with God in eternity past. John 17:5
a. Jesus Christ stepped down from His place of glory at the throne of God, voluntarily and temporarily suspended the use of many of His divine attributes, and came to earth to live as the God-man; fully divine yet fully human.
2. He laid aside His garments: symbolic of His leaving heaven to become a man.
a. Jesus Christ came to redeem us from sin. Galatians 4:4-5
b. He became sin for us so that we could be righteous in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
3. He took a towel and girded Himself: symbolic of the kenosis; the perfection of divinity taking on the likeness of human flesh. Romans 8:3-4
B. Washing Is Symbolic Of Cleansing. John 13:5
1. Water speaks of our need for sanctification and purification. Ephesians 5:25-26
· sanctify – NT:37 - hagiazo (hag-ee-ad’-zo); from NT:40; to make holy, i.e. (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate.
· cleanse - NT:2511 - katharizo (kath-ar-id’-zo); from NT:2513; to cleanse (literally or figuratively).
· Word - NT:4487 - rhema (hray’-mah); from NT:4483; an utterance (individually, collectively or specifically); by implication, a matter or topic (especially of narration, command or dispute); with a negative naught whatever.
Note: The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," Eph 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
C. Washing Is Symbolic Of Concession.
Note: The dusty and dirty conditions of the region necessitated the need for footwashing. Although the disciples most likely would have been happy to wash Jesus’ feet, they could not conceive of washing each other’s feet. This was because in the society of the time footwashing was reserved for the lowliest of menial servants. Peers did not wash one another’s feet, except very rarely and as a mark of great love. Luke points out that they were arguing about who was the greatest of them, so that none was willing to stoop to wash feet. When Jesus moved to wash their feet, they were shocked. (The MacArthur Study Bible, note on John 13:4,5.) John 13:6, 8-9
1. We don’t know the mind of Peter, necessarily, but his objection probably stems from pride and embarrassment.
2. He was indignant that Jesus would stoop so low as to perform the task of a slave.
3. He failed to see beyond the humble service to the symbolism of spiritual cleansing involved.
4. The reality for the Christian is that we continually need to confess our sins and allow the Lord Jesus Christ to not only forgive us, but to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
II. WASHING IS NOT BATHING. John 13:7
Note: What was it that Peter did not know? That Jesus was not referring to the act of washing Peter’s feet is obvious. Peter knew that Jesus was washing his feet. But when faced with the possibility of being rejected, he asked Jesus to wash not only his feet, but his head and hands as well. The key to understanding what Peter did not know is found in verse 10. John 13:10