The Sine Qua Non
John 13:1-19
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…


1. To have a part in Christ.

(1)  In the merit of His righteousness.

(2)  In His death.

(3)  In His resurrection.

(4)  In His ascension.

(5)  In His intercession.

(6)  In His kingdom.

(7)  In His second advent.

2. I hope most of us know what it is to have a part in Christ. But if we do, the blessed fact is altogether due to grace, and it could never have been so if we had not first been washed. If we do not then this is a blessing worthy of the utmost intensity of desire, and one which we must obtain or sink down to destruction, since to be without Christ is to be without hope.

II. THE ESSENTIAL QUALIFICATION FOR OBTAINING AND ENJOYING A PART WITH CHRIST — being washed by Him. Then, the qualification is not one of merit on our part, but one of mercy on His. If He had said, "Except ye obtain a superior degree of holiness, ye have no part in Me," we might have despaired; but the very chief of sinners may find comfort in such a word as this. But what is meant by this washing?

1. No man has any part in Christ who does not receive the first all-essential washing in the precious blood, by which all sin is once and forever put away. The moment a sinner believes in Jesus Christ, his iniquities are seen as laid on Christ the Substitute, and the believer himself is free from sin. But without faith in the atonement thou canst have no part in Christ.

2. There follows a second cleansing, viz., daily pardon for sin through faith in Jesus. As day by day we fall into sin, we are taught to pray each day, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us;" and there is provision made in Christ Jesus for this daily pardon, since besides being the Paschal Lamb, our Lord is the morning and evening Lamb for daily guilt. The priest of God, when consecrated first, was washed from head to foot, and so baptized into the service of the sanctuary; but each time he went to offer sacrifice he washed his feet and his hands in the brazen laver. No need to give the complete immersion on each occasion; but accidental defilement, incident to everyday life, had to be cleansed away, not to make the man a priest, but to keep him in proper condition for the discharge of his office. The leper, once purged under the law, was clean, and might go into the congregation of the Lord's house; yet as a clean man, he had the ordinary need to wash which was incidental to every Israelite.

3. Another thing included is the continual sanctification which faith in Jesus Christ carries on within by the Holy Spirit. If a man profess to be a Christian, and is not in his walk and conversation holier than other men, that man's profession is vain. If Jesus wash not your tongue, and cleanse away those angry, or idle, or filthy words; that baud, and render it impossible for it to perform a dishonest or unchaste act; that foot, and render it impossible it should carry you to the haunts of vice and criminal amusement, you have no part in Him.

4. The daily communion which the true Christian has with Christ.


1. The claims of Christ. Suppose a man shall say, "I have no need of washing," brethren, it is clear that he has no part in Christ, because Christ came on purpose to cleanse His people from their sins. He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. You have no part in Christ, then, however much you applaud Him, unless you are washed by Him, for you have rejected that for which He lived and died.

2. Christ is Himself so infinitely pure that we must first be cleansed by Him before He can enter into fellowship with us. There is a fellowship with us as sinners which He graciously adopts, for He receiveth sinners and eateth with them; but into fellowship with His deep thoughts, His blessed purposes, and His Divine nature. He brings no man till first He has washed him in His blood.

3. The blessings which are in Christ are so spiritual that till we are cleansed we cannot enjoy them. Who can see God but those who are first made pure in heart? Who can have peace with God but those who are justified by faith?

4. Man's nature is such that it is impossible for him to have part with Christ without washing.


1. Peter had such love and admiration for his Master that he very humbly said, "Dost Thou wash my feet?" Humility will not save you.

2. Peter had performed distinguished service for his Master. Though any of us should possess tongues of men and of angels, and give our bodies to be burned, yet if Christ wash us not, we have no part in Him.

3. Peter had enjoyed very remarkable views of Christ's glory. I hear men boasting of the "coming glory"; but it is not as glorified that Jesus puts away sin. Though a man bathe day after day in the very light of the Millennium, yet if Jesus wash him not it profiteth him nothing.

4. Peter had walked the water once and found it marble beneath his feet. If thou hadst faith to remove mountains, yet if thou hadst not this washing, thou wouldst have no part in Christ.

5. Peter had received deep instruction! Ay, but though you possessed all knowledge, and could interpret all mysteries, yet if Jesus wash you not, you have no part in Him.

6. Peter was full of zealous enthusiasm, but the greatest imaginable zeal does not prove a man to have a part in Christ if he be not truly washed.


1. Let no supposed humility keep any of you from believing in Jesus Christ.

2. As you must not let a supposed humility, so let no other kind of feeling keep you from Christ.

3. Remember what you are if you remain unwashed, and what you will be if you are washed.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

The Sign of the Feet Washing
Top of Page
Top of Page