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…
I. ITS NATURE.
1. The evil from which we are to be cleansed. Christ evidently had Judas's sin in view (vers. 2, 11). And in ver. 8, He manifestly implies that the sin of the betrayer was the sin into which they would fall unless purified by Him. This is the root and ground of every other sin. Every man has the Judas nature in him. Consider what that sin was. Avarice was only the last form which it assumed. Go deeper and we shall discover its spirit and essence in intensely carnal selfishness. Look at any form of this and you will see that its natural development is the Judas sin — all things sold for its own gratification. Its laws of growth are all there. It shuts out Divine influences, creates unbelief, hardens the heart, and reaches its consummation in the sale of Christian principle. The world for eighteen centuries has cast stones at Judas, but the thoughtful Christian will be constrained almost to stand by his side and say, "Had it not been for God's grace, this tendency to sin in me would have led to that consummation, and I had sold the Christ too." This, then, is the evil from which we need cleansing.
2. Whence comes the purifying power? The answer to this we find expressed in the symbol. The highest stooping to the lowest, that He might purify them from sin...Connect with that the words, "Having loved His own, He loved them unto the end," and you will reach the power in Christ which purifies the soul. This is the power which shatters the idols of the heart; which makes the life a sacrifice. In the hours of fiercest trial, only let us feel, "He became a servant for me," and this will bind the heart as with golden chains to Christ as its Master and Lord.
II. ITS PERFECTION. How are we to be wholly cleansed from this dark temptation? Now, mark, they needed not a special purifying; but to let that power pervade their whole natures they needed to wash their feet. Two thoughts are involved here.
1. The purifying must pervade the lowest powers of life. The feet, as representing the least, lowest actions and energies of life, those which come into actual contact with the world. The most trifling outward act has a power to corrupt the spiritual life. One evil deed leaves its scar; one such impedes prayer, because the dark nature within you will find an outlet there. You are encircled by foes; leave no portal unguarded. You are surrounded by a torrent; leave no break in the dyke.
2. The purifying must advance with advancing life. The feet again, as representing the progress of life. Past purification will leave the advanced life untouched If a man tries to live always on the power of the first grace given, he will fall. We must go to the Cross daily.
(E. L. Hull, B. A.)
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.