WASHING THE DISCIPLES' FEET
The lesson for us to learn from this incident is that Christ’s disciples should copy their Master’s humility, for “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” (v. 14).
But there is more in the incident than this. Peter, at first, objected to being washed, but on Christ saying “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me,” Peter responds, ” Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” This, however, Jesus affirmed to be unnecessary, for ” He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all” (this of course referred to Judas).
Christ’s argument is based on the custom of walking home bare-toot after visiting the public baths, so that on arrival one who had so bathed would, although bodily clean, have yet to wash his feet.
Now the disciples had been washed from their sins in baptism and had risen to newness of life. They wore robes of righteousness, having been cleansed from unrighteousness. But their walk in the truth “made their feet dirty”; they did not however require to be re-immersed on that account, but they did need to have their feet washed. This Christ did for them, and. so necessary was it that otherwise they could have no part with him. Having had their feet washed they were “clean every whit.”
The point for us to consider is not difficult. We stand in the same position as did the disciples. We have been “washed,” but nevertheless during our walk in the truth our feet become dirty as it were. We come to Christ and he is pleased in his mercy to wash us (by forgiveness of our transgressions) so that we are clean again. If we are not so washed, we can have no part with him.
The incident teaches us something more than humility. As Christ does, so ought we. If he can forgive a brother’s trespass, how much more ought we. “If ye know these things happy are ye if ye do them.” We may feel as disinclined to forgive our brothers’ trespass against us, as we should to have to wash his feet, especially if he is one who we are tempted to regard as inferior. Nevertheless, says Christ, “Ye ought to.” And how many ecclesial contentions would be ended, if one of the contending parties would humble himself sufficiently to be the first to do it.