Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?"
Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this." Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"
Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean."
I can't imagine what it would be like knowing I was to be put to death for something I didn't do. In Jesus' case it was a false accusation. Those who adamantly did not want to see Him live would not receive the eternal spiritual life He came to give. And yet we see Christians today being told if they do not renounce their faith in Jesus they will be killed. He died for us; we may have to die for Him...for that spiritual life in Christ.
Here started the end for Jesus. The Last Supper. The final moments, the explanation to come for His disciples and what they were called to do. He called these ordinary men to do extraordinary things. He uses ordinary people. And all were used, even Judas. He was the instrument used by God to begin the arresting process.
But Jesus had one more thing to do. Wash the disciples' feet. It is the most humble of all acts. People all wore sandals then. It was a common thing to either wash your own feet before entering someone's home or a servant would do it. It was considered the most menial of tasks.
There was no mention of these disciples washing their feet. They were, according to other gospel accounts, busy preparing for the feast. So Jesus took care of it. And I certainly do not believe He didn't know He would. I certainly do not believe He knew a lesson was necessary.
I can imagine the looks on the disciples' faces. The humility, maybe shame that their Master was doing this. They forgot! It should have been them washing His feet. (But then, which one? Who would have humbled himself enough to do this?!) And Peter so totally objected. And again Jesus had to rebuke him! Poor Peter. His impetuous personality got him into trouble so often. And Jesus loved him just the same.
So what was the purpose? One of servanthood. He came to do the will of His Father. He came to die for us. That is the ultimate act of servanthood...humility and love toward one another. It teaches us that none of us are better than another. We should all be as servants. He had to wash their feet...all
part of the lesson.
The main point here is why Jesus came. He came to cleanse us all from our sins and give us His free gift of salvation. "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." It comes in believing in Him, receiving Him into our lives, living for Him, taking the Gospel to those around us. When we receive Him we have been washed. It is something we only have to do once. The washing of the feet was a spiritual act of what we must do in our lives, one of constant sanctification. We must wash the dirt of the world off our feet.
Peter had been saved. He only needed to have his feet washed. As did the other disciples. What is truly an example is what I believe happened...Jesus washed Judas' feet. There is no evidence He did not. He must have known Judas would betray Him. Despite this Jesus loved him. I believe this tells us what we are told elsewhere that we are to love our enemies...a very difficult thing to do in our own strength. Lord, give me the same kind of love for all people.
Jesus was teaching these men a lesson. As He came not to be served but to serve, so should they. We might just get another glimpse of this later... But doesn't our own pride just get in the way many times?
Matthew 20:25-28 - But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”