Do You Know What I Have Done Unto You


John 13:1-20

The passage begins with a deliberate act of Jesus—the washing of the disciples’ feet.

We must recognize that when Jesus knelt to wash the feet of His disciples that also included Judas (this fact will be taken up in a future study). John tells us that Jesus rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel.

1. Jesus “rose from supper,” just as He had previously risen from His throne of glory. Then He “laid aside His garments.” Scripture states that He laid aside His glory when He came into the world as God manifested in the flesh. He laid aside the visage of His deity and girded Himself in flesh. He did not come to act as God; He came to act as Man indwelt by God—the Great High Priest leaves the holiest of Holies and comes to the outer court—a reverse of the actions of the Levitical high priest. The Levitical high priest carried blood into the Holiest of Holies while the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, carried precious blood which was in His body to the outer court—to the world.

2. He “girded himself with a towel,” Paul in Philippians 2:7-8 tells us that He “took the form of a servant,” and “humbled himself and became obedient unto death.” He humbles Himself, taking the role of a servant, girding Himself with a towel.”

3. He then poured water into a basin—just as in a few hours he was to pour out his own blood at Calvary, the blood which would be for the cleansing of sin. It was a deliberate act, no one else poured it out for Him nor forced Him to pour it out just as He purposely “shed” not “spilt” His own blood therefore he pours water into the basin as a type.

4. He then “began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.” This is a beautiful picture of the application of His blood to the lives of repentant sinners. Then when he had washed their feet, and taken His garments, He resumed his place and sat down—just as Hebrews 1:3 records that “When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Amazing picture of God Who “girded” Himself in flesh and came to this world of defilement in order to cleanse us with nothing less than the “precious blood of Jesus Christ” and then to ascend on high and sat down on His eternal throne in glory.

5. As Jesus is moving from disciple to disciple washing their feet He came to Peter, who refused to let Him wash his feet. Peter says to Jesus, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus says to him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.”

A. Peter’s refusal to be washed by Jesus is a portrait of the sinful pride of those who reject the cleansing power of Jesus Christ. A need exists in all men for the cleansing which Jesus Christ provides. “Lord, you’ll never wash my feet!” sounds, at first glance, to be a humble statement, but when we look closer we can sense that it is the expression of personal pride. Peter is offended by Jesus’ kneeling posture before him because Peter felt that if he were in the same position, if he was a Lord, he would never stoop to wash someone else’s feet. That would be beneath him and a distasteful position to his ego.

B. Quite a revelation of the pride of the human heart which many times hides itself with a fake show of humility that desires its own self-dependence, self-sufficiency not wanting to admit that it is in need of anything—especially cleansing. Peter doesn’t want to admit to Jesus that he requires His cleansing nor acknowledge his need of being washed therefore Peter is as an example of the pride in our own hearts which resists the cleansing power of Jesus Christ that is desperately needed.

C. Human pride must bow before Him before we can receive what God desires to impart to us. Jesus says to Peter, “If I do not wash you, you can have no part in me,” to which Peter replies “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” In other words, he requested a bath and Jesus corrects him again “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over.” In essence, Jesus is saying, “When you first come to me, you are bathed, you are clean all over.” This is the actual work of Acts 2:38. Repentance, water baptism , in Jesus Name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost is a washing away of all the uncleanness (our feet—our “walk”) and sin of our lives—past, present, and future.

D. However, as we “walk” through life there will be defilement in our walk, and that defilement needs to be washed away. Not only do we need that initial cleansing, which washes us as a bath (baptism in Jesus Name); but we need also the repeated experience of forgiveness for errors in our daily walk. The quality of our relationship with Jesus Christ is injured when we are temporarily defiled by wrongdoings and by attitudes which are unchristian. This is why the Scripture states “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

6. Peter’s error is still often repeated today by many individuals who, like him, refuse to have Jesus wash their feet. They are rejecting the indispensable requirement needed that confirms a partnership with Him.

7. When Jesus had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and resumed His place, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”

A. What does Jesus mean when He says that we ought to wash one another’s feet? It is not just the physical act but He means also that just as we need the cleansing and forgiveness of Jesus Christ in order to maintain the sense of unity with Him, we too need to forgive one another, to extend to one another forgiveness for injury that we might have done to one another. We are to be “tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us.” He is telling us that through this physical act (just as in Communion) we experience an even deeper impact that gives unity to the body of Christ as set forth by His own example.

B. Notice the results: “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” This is the secret of maintaining harmony among saints in the family of the church.

— jlg —

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