Vs 1 “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.”
We see in this one verse several “shadows” or hints of the cross. A few of the words and phrases we see here we know from hindsight what Jesus and the Scripture is referring to – Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross at Calvary.
Passover: In the book of Exodus, when the Jews were being prepared by God to escape Egyptian slavery, the Lord had one final plague with which to strike the Egyptians to force them to release the Jews. He would be putting to death the first born male of every household. The Hebrews (Jews) were instructed to find an unblemished, spotless lamb for each of their own households. Then at the appointed time, all Israel was to sacrifice the lamb for their household and take some of the blood of the lamb and paint it on the doorposts and the lintel (top of the doorframe) of the door. Then the Lord would pass through all of Egypt that night, and kill the firstborn male of every household. When the Lord went by one of the Hebrew households with the lambs blood on the doorway, He would “pass over” that house and not kill the child there. This paints for us a picture of Jesus Christ. He is the firstborn Son of God. He became our sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. His blood was shed just as the lamb’s blood was shed.
His hour: We’ve talked about “His hour” on several occasions as we’ve studied through the book of John as Jesus mentions it a few times (John chapters 2 and 7 for example). Jesus, as God, knew precisely when He was supposed to give up His life for mankind. He knew the day and the hour when He would be betrayed by Judas, when He would go to trial, what time He would be crucified, and what hour He would physically die for every one of us. The Lord’s timing isn’t always known or understood by us. But Jesus knew when “His hour” was appointed to be hanged up on that cross.
Depart: Jesus knew that He would be departing from the world and His disciples by His death on the cross.
The end: Again, Jesus knew that His time on this earth in His “pre-resurrected” body was short. He knew that the hour was coming to hang on the cross.
Again, we can’t read through that first verse without being reminded by almost every phrase that the Cross was coming.
Vs 2 “And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him,”
The traitor, Judas, had already decided to betray Jesus. He knew exactly what he was going to do and how he was going to do it.
Vs 3 “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,”
Jesus knew that He was in complete control! Make no mistake, God is on the throne! He is in control of this universe we live in. Jesus gave His life willingly, man did not take it from Him. In John 10:18 Jesus says: “No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
Vs 4-5 “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.”
In this period in history and this part of the world, folks walked around in sandals. Their feet got to be filthy. It was the lowliest servants job to wash the feet of the guests of the household. Here we see Jesus take on that role of the lowliest of slaves to serve His friends. Again, He was a willing servant, it wasn’t forced upon Him or required of him. It was even His idea! It would certainly be a humbling thing to wash feet that had been so filthy.
This is what God asks of us – to be willing and humble servants in whatever He wants. Wherever/whenever/however He wants us to do His will, we are simply called to obey.
(As a side note and not to take away from the message: the job that I am always amazed people so willingly do is that of the dental hygienist. That willing servant that gets into another persons mouth and cleans those teeth – yuck – not for me. But I’m thankful they are willing.)
Vs 6-9 “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!'”
Again, Jesus is offering Himself as a servant to His friends and even to the one who will betray Him (Judas). Jesus gives us a great example here of serving others, and the ultimate example is of course when He gave up His life.
What job/task has God asked of you that you have refused to do? Or perhaps you’ve done it, but with a sour attitude. Something that maybe your boss, parents, or teacher asked of you? Or maybe no one personally asked you other than the Holy Spirit whispering in your heart that you should do a certain something for someone else?
Vs 10-15 “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.’ So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you'”
Wash one another’s feet. Serve one another. Help the neighbor in need. Feed the hungry. Serve the poor. Go where you are called. Do what is asked of you.
1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” and also Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
In your daily life, in whatever you do, do it as though you are serving Christ in your work. Do it for Him and for His glory. Give thanks to Him for your work. Sing praises, pray, and worship Him while you go about your tasks. We were put on this earth to glorify Him.
Vs 16-17 “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
God will bless His servants for following Him. If you know Jesus as your Savior, God wants you to serve others with a humble heart. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior and you are reading this, you know that God is speaking to your heart right now. God is certainly calling you to Himself. Jesus died for us both – you and me. He wants you in His eternal kingdom, that’s why He died and rose again on the day of his resurrection! All you have to do to have eternal life with Him is to believe that Jesus died for you and to ask for it. If you’ve never prayed before, it feels funny the first time. But God is listening to you!