Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father…
This sublime declaration is but the preface to what follows, and nothing more startling at first sight can be found in all literature.
I. CHRIST POSSESSED ALL THINGS, and yet He washed His disciples' feet. What has the possession of boundless wealth to do with such menial service? We could imagine a Rothschild sweeping His own room, but would it occur to us to connect with that act, as a reason, the fact of his immense riches? The explanation lies in what this feet washing meant — the pardon and sanctification of Christ's disciples through His atonement. To this "all things" were necessary, and the absence of one Divine prerogative would have marred the work. Christ required all wisdom, all justice, all power, all love, and all influence over the widest reach of human souls.
II. CHRIST CAME FROM GOD, and yet He washed His disciples' feet — as wonderful a conjunction as the previous one. We could imagine an ambassador of the highest rank relieving his lacquey of some humble duty and discharging it himself — but we should hardly refer to his office for a reason. But Christ's mission was expressly to do what the feet washing meant. His one motive for visiting this world was to cleanse and sanctify His disciples' souls.
III. CHRIST WAS GOING TO GOD, and yet He washed His disciples' feet — an equally strange conjunction. We can imagine a sovereign, just before his return from some distant province, rendering some humble but kindly service to a peasant, but we should never dream of saying that he did this because he was going to his capital. But Christ went to heaven because He had done that which was symbolized by the feet washing. He came for that purpose; that purpose being accomplished, there was no further reason for Him to stay. And in going He went to His rest and His reward. Lessons:
1. Christ's work is an individual work, and shows the value of individual souls. Christ had all things, He came, He went for every man's cleansing — for mine.
2. What is true of Christ is in a sense true of every disciple. God has given us all we have, time, talents, money, influence, etc.; we have come from God; we shall go to God — what for? The salvation of men. God has endowed us with ability for it, has sent us to do it, will hold us accountable for it at the great day.
3. The "knowledge" of all this should beget a due sense of the blessedness, dignity, and responsibility of Christian discipleship.
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
WEB: Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his time had come that he would depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.