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…
These words teach two different and yet most closely connected truths.
I. The completeness and abidingness of the Divine forgiveness. He who is washed is clean every whit.
II. The second is, that after we have got this complete, abiding forgiveness, we still require, while we remain on earth, daily, hourly forgiveness; we still need to wash our feet. This accords with our daily experience; the emblem, as is always the case with Christ's figures, exactly accords with fact. But there is a more striking illustration in the book of Exodus. The Lord there tells Moses to consecrate Aaron and his sons as priests. In doing this their bodies were wholly washed with water. This was the consecration washing, and this was never to be repeated. But in the next chapter, Moses is commanded to make a laver, or large basin of brass, and put it between the brazen altar and the tabernacle, and fill it with pure water. In this the priests, who had been fully washed, once for all, were yet required to wash their feet and hands every time they entered the tabernacle. I believe the Lord referred to this when He uttered the words of this verse. It is as if He had said, "When you come as sinners, and believe on Me, I wash you, bathe you, once for all, in My blood. I make you priests unto God; I perfect you forever, in as far as concerns acceptance and approach to the Lord. But, like the typical priests, you will still require, so long as you sojourn and minister on earth, to wash your feet, to seek, and get, forgiveness for your daily, hourly errors and shortcomings. Such seems to be the import of the Lord's words. We cannot but feel that there is more intended here than the washing with water. We are lifted into a loftier region; we stand on high and holy ground, and are dealing with that blood of the Lamb of God wherewith He washed and sanctified His Church unto Himself, "Clean every whit." I fear that many never get full hold of this blessed truth; they never realize the difference between law and gospel. The law made nothing perfect; the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin forever; it only procured a respite, a reprieve, "a renewal of the bill," as men of business would say. The blood which the Jewish high priest took into the holiest of all, and sprinkled there on the mercy seat, only covered Israel's sin for a year; it had to be annually renewed. But the blood which Christ, our High Priest, has taken into the heavenly tabernacle, and sprinkled on the mercy seat there, covers the sins of His believing people forever and ever. There needs no more sacrifice for sin, for by one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified; that is, those who are washed and set apart for God. Oh, it is blessed when this truth gets full possession of the heart and conscience! It brings in peace, assurance, hope, joy, holiness, humility. It makes our service one of freedom, gladness, light. But now comes the subordinate truth; the forgiven man still needs to wash his feet. We can easily understand this. God's forgiven people are still on earth; still in the flesh; and so liable to many sins and shortcomings. What are we to do? We have an advocate; we have a propitiation. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive," etc. This will keep up a close, intimate, happy fellowship with God (1 John 1:7). I suppose this is very much what is meant when it is said (Revelation 7:14, 15). They had once been washed, and washed forever; but then they continued all their days resorting to the fountain, to wash away the sin and infirmity of life and lip and heart.
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.