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…
Here is —
I. MATTER FOR INQUIRY. Is there anything in the conduct of Christ now analogous to His washing Peter's feet when on earth? Yes.
1. When He watches over the temporal affairs of His people. When Jesus looks to your family troubles, and bears your household cares, saying unto you, "Cast all your care on Me for I care for you," is He not in effect doing for you what He did for Peter, caring for your lowest part, and minding the poor dust-stained body?
2. When He puts away from us our daily infirmities and sins. It is a great act of love when Christ once for all absolves the sinner, and puts him into the family of God; but what long suffering there is when the Saviour bears the follies of the recipient of so much mercy hour by hour, putting away the constant sin of the erring but yet beloved child. To blot out the whole of sin like a thick cloud, this is a great and matchless power, as well as grace; but to remove the mist of every morning and the damps of every night — this is condescension well imaged in the washing of Peter's feet.
3. When He cleanses our prayers. They are the feet of our soul, since with them we climb to heaven and run after God. It is oftentimes easier to do a thing over at once anew than it is to patch up a work which has been badly done by others. There are His own prayers for me — I thank Him for them, but I cannot help also blessing Him that He should take my prayers, and put them into the censer, and offer them before His Father's face; for I am certain that before they can have been fit to offer they must have experienced a deal of washing.
4. When He makes our works acceptable. These may be compared to the soul's feet. It is by the feet that a man expresses his activity. We have heard of someone who made sugar out of old rags; but the manufacture cost more than the goods were worth; and this is something like our works. Jesus Christ makes sweetness out of the poor rags of our good works; they cost Him more in the manufacturing than ever the raw material could have been worth, or the finished works themselves are worth, except in His esteem.
5. When He is content to suffer in His people's sufferings. Not a pang shoots through you but Jesus knows and feels it.
II. MATTER FOR ADMIRATION. When we consider —
1. The freeness of the deed. "Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?" It is perfectly wonderful that He should, for we have scarcely desired the mercy. You do not find that Peter asked Christ to do it. No, it was unsolicited, unexpected. It is great goodness on Christ's part to hear our prayers when we really feel our need; but if Christ did no more for us than we ask Him to do, we should perish; for nine out of ten of the things which He gives us we never asked for, and three out of four of them we scarcely know that we want, Have there not been many nights on which you have gone to bed without any particular sense of guilt, and without any special intercession for cleansing? You have forgotten to ask, but He has never forgotten to give. You have risen in the morning; you were not aware that any special danger would come to you, and you did not pray for special protection, but yet He knew it; and unasked and unsought for He has kept you from danger.
2. The glory of the Person. Lord! Master! God! Dost thou wash my feet? He whom the angels worship takes a towel and girds Himself. What a stoop is here!
3. The lowliness of the office. "My feet." To wash my head, to purge my mind, to cleanse my hands and my heart, is very condescending; but He does a slave's work, takes the meanest part of me and washes that.
4. The unworthiness of the object of this washing. "My feet?"
5. The completeness of the washing. When things are washed by careless servants, they want washing again; but when they are washed by the loving hands of Jesus, they cannot be badly done.
III. MATTER FOR GRATITUDE, that having once washed head and hands and feet with blood, He still doth daily wash my feet with water.
IV. MATTER FOR IMITATION.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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.