“…He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then …Peter saith unto Him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? …Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:5-8).
Peter could hardly believe what he was seeing when Jesus knelt before him with a towel in His hand and told him to extend his feet so He could wash them. Peter replied that he would not allow Jesus to bring Himself down to such a low level. He could not in any way envision Christ as a servant. But Jesus explained that rejecting this offer would be the same as rejecting Him, and then He said, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
What is the essential qualification to have a part with Christ? It doesn’t matter what our sin may be—we can be made pure through the actions of Jesus. But the only way we can receive is to have our feet washed by Him first. Jesus is willing and able to wash us to purify us of all our sins. He did not say that we have to pay Him or give Him anything to do this. It is an honor we cannot buy or earn, because it only comes by the mercy of God, and it is from Him alone that we receive it.
Royalty demands that we bow at their feet if we hope to get a favor from them. They might even require us to wash their feet before we could be considered for a favor. But what did the King of kings and Lord of lords do? He took off His outer garment, picked up a towel, and bent His knee before us in order to wash our feet! We should be serving Him, yet He serves us!
After He washed the feet of the disciples, Jesus said that “…ye ought also to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14-15). So why didn’t they continue washing each other’s feet after Jesus left them? Because they understood that He was simply demonstrating the need for lowliness before each other to them. There was no set way this was to be done, only according to the time and place and need, sometimes one way, sometimes another. The lesson Jesus was trying to get across was to have humble love for one another.
Jesus also wanted His disciples to be as clean inwardly as they were outwardly once they were washed.
He wanted them to help each other to reach toward the goal of purity, which might include washing one another’s feet when necessary. They were to be willing to serve those of any class, not just their own, whenever they had the opportunity. Jesus desired for His disciples to not just be morally right toward their brothers in the Lord, but to go to the extent of humbly denying themselves in order to help their brothers to be morally clean and pure also.
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…” (1 Peter 1:22).
Jesus wanted them to demonstrate brotherly love for each other, coming from a pure heart of godly love. He wanted the disciples to see each other as brothers because they would all soon be cleansed, not by water this time, but by His blood shed on the cross of Calvary. This would be their true source of cleansing and purification. He also told them that “What I do thou knowest not now. But thou shall know hereafter.”
We who belong to Christ need to do what He wanted us to do—to humbly lower ourselves to the level of servant to one another. Then we will be able to help remove the dirt and stain of the world and sin from each other which we all come in contact with day after day. If we will lower ourselves to walk a simple life of humility, we will be able to help lift our brothers and sisters to a life that is pure and noble.
If we feel unworthy to have Jesus wash our feet, and let this keep us away from Him, do we think we will be saved by what we think is being humble? We won’t be saved unless we let Him wash us and cleanse us of all sin.
If we are not willing for Him to do so, then we will not have a part in Him. It is my prayer that each of us, as children of God, will have a part with Him, and that we will all be faithful and diligent to watch over each other’s souls in order to give account to our Lord.