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. The DIRECT TEACHING contained in our Saviour's washing of the disciples' feet. That our relation to Christ is —
1. Personal, as is also His relation to us. There is no such fact as a general relationship to Christ. We are either His personal followers, or personally estranged. There is no religion but personal religion. Christ knelt before each of the twelve in turn.
2. Cleansing. Christ came to save the world from sin. But only those cleansed by the blood receive eternal life.
3. Needs to be continually renewed. It is a daily relation. He pointed to his daily cleansing, the washing of the basin, in distinction from the bathing in the fountain.
4. Practical. Our service is to be —
(1) Personal. We have no general ministry, either of clergy or laity. It is the personal work we do which builds up the kingdom of God. The lost are found one by one. All organization that amounts to anything is association in some form for hand-to-hand work.
(2) Lowly. Jesus took the form of a servant. Look upon Him as He kneels at thy feet. So humble thyself to serve.
(3) With the basin and towel. We are to aid each other to be clean Christians.
II. The INDIRECT TEACHING.
1. That the first act of discipleship is self-surrender (vers. 8, 9). We must do just as the Saviour says, or we can have no part with Him. We must waive all objections. The objection of Peter arose from tenderness of conscience. We may feel unworthy of the grace of God. But some say, "We need no cleansing; we are satisfied with our way of life." There is nothing for these but self-surrender. How can you help it, looking upon Jesus, kneeling and waiting before you?
2. The value of one soul in God's sight. Jesus felt a personal love for each, even for Judas! What a tender touch He put upon those feet, which no mere washing could cleanse!
3. That bathing precedes washing (ver. 10); the atonement, the baptism of the Spirit; pardon, sanctification. As Peter, having been bathed, needed not save to wash his feet, so Judas, not having been bathed, needed the cleansing of you see that He was quite conscious of His dignity when He did it? He did not forget Himself; and that is put down there that you may know that the deepest act of humility is not inconsistent with dignity. He, knowing that He came from God, and that He was just about to go back to God, would do this, the humblest of all acts. He would show us before He went up to the throne of the universe what He is who is sitting on the throne; because if He had not done this who was with God from all eternity, dwelling with Him in unapproachable light, we should not have been able to think that there was such humility on the throne. But now we shall know forever and ever what He is that is sitting upon the throne. Let us learn another thing — what it is that goes to God. It is humility that goes to God as well as comes from God. We must be humble, then; we must go on humbling ourselves more and more to the very last, so that at the last, when we at last go, we shall go with nothing but humility — prepared to be just nothing before the throne. When we are nothing God gives us all, and God will not give us His all till we are nothing in our own estimation.There are two or three reflections, which shall close our subject.
1. The first is — let us write it upon our hearts — that our Christ in glory is as humble now, and will be as humble to all eternity, as He was in that supper room before His disciples. He changeth not.
2. Another reflection is, that as the devil and his angels lost their heaven through their self-importance, through pride, we may lose our heaven as they did through pride.
3. The next reflection is, that there is a spurious grandeur of humility which we must avoid. We are reminded of this by Peter. When Peter's turn came to be washed, he said, O no, never, never! My Lord wash my feet? Never! How humble that seems; and yet it was not humility, but a spurious, affected grandeur of humility, in which there is no humility at all. No; I will tell you what humility is. Humility before God is exactly that simple willingness to be served which the babe has to be waited on by its mother. The baby does not object to it. The baby does not say, "I am nothing but a poor little baby." No; but it takes it for granted. Now, we must allow God to do with us whatever He will in the same artless, simple spirit.
4. Another thought — that Satan put something into Judas's heart that put him off from Christ and heaven. That is in the connection too. Judas was among the twelve, but Satan was putting something into his heart. What was it? The love of this present evil world, and the love of the means by which this present evil world can be enjoyed — the love of what he had in the bag, and the love of putting something more into the bag and increasing it by any means. The devil was putting that into his 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.