22 – The Feet Washing

22 – The Feet Washing2016-11-27T17:36:32+00:00

Sabbath, November 28, 2015

“When Jesus girded Himself with a towel to wash the dust from their feet, He desired by that very act to wash the alienation, jealousy, and pride from their hearts. This was of far more consequence than the washing of their dusty feet…. Their hearts must be cleansed. Pride and self-seeking create dissension and hatred, but all this Jesus washed away in washing their feet.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 646. 

Jesus serves His disciples 

1. According to the blessing spoken by Jesus, how important is the purification of one’s heart? In harmony with this blessing, what did Jesus do for His disciples right before facing His final suffering and death? 

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 

John 13:3-5 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 

“In the estimation of God a pure heart is more precious than the gold of Ophir. A pure heart is the temple where God dwells, the sanctuary where Christ takes up His abode. A pure heart is above everything that is cheap or low; it is a shining light, a treasure house from which come uplifting, sanctified words. It is a place where the imagery of God is recognized, and where the highest delight is to behold His image. It is a heart that finds its whole and only pleasure and satisfaction in God, and whose thoughts and intents and purposes are alive with godliness. Such a heart is a sacred place; it is a treasury of all virtue.” –My Life Today, p. 263. 

Refusal not justifiable 

2. Was every disciple in agreement with Jesus’ performing such a service of humility for him? How did Jesus answer Peter’s objection? 

John 13:6, 7 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 

“As the disciples watched Christ’s action, they were greatly moved. When Peter’s turn came, he exclaimed with astonishment, ‘Lord, dost Thou wash my feet?’ Christ’s condescension broke his heart. He was filled with shame to think that one of the disciples was not performing this service. ‘What I do,’ Christ said, ‘thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.’ Peter could not bear to see his Lord, whom he believed to be the Son of God, acting the part of a servant. His whole soul rose up against this humiliation. He did not realize that for this Christ came into the world. With great emphasis he exclaimed, ‘Thou shalt never wash my feet.’” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 645, 646.

3. How did Peter change his mind when he understood the consequence of refusing this service? If it was a detriment for him to refuse the feet washing, what can be said about this ordinance today? 

John 13:8, 9 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 

“Solemnly Christ said to Peter, ‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.’ The service which Peter refused was the type of a higher cleansing. Christ had come to wash the heart from the stain of sin. In refusing to allow Christ to wash his feet, Peter was refusing the higher cleansing included in the lower. He was really rejecting his Lord. It is not humiliating to the Master to allow Him to work for our purification. The truest humility is to receive with thankful heart any provision made in our behalf, and with earnestness do service for Christ…. 

“At the words, ‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me,’ Peter surrendered his pride and self-will. He could not endure the thought of separation from Christ; that would have been death to him. ‘Not my feet only,’ he said, ‘but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 646. 

Purification of heart

4. How did the Saviour’s words show that the feet washing represents the cleansing of one’s heart and mind? What does the Lord urge every follower to do so he will have a pure heart and mind?

John 13:10, 11 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 

2 Corinthians 6:17, 18 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 

“When Jesus girded Himself with a towel to wash the dust from their feet, He desired by that very act to wash the alienation, jealousy, and pride from their hearts. This was of far more consequence than the washing of their dusty feet. With the spirit they then had, not one of them was prepared for communion with Christ. Until brought into a state of humility and love, they were not prepared to partake of the paschal supper, or to share in the memorial service which Christ was about to institute. Their hearts must be cleansed. Pride and self-seeking create dissension and hatred, but all this Jesus washed away in washing their feet. A change of feeling was brought about. Looking upon them, Jesus could say, ‘Ye are clean.’ Now there was union of heart, love for one another. They had become humble and teachable. Except Judas, each was ready to concede to another the highest place. Now with subdued and grateful hearts they could receive Christ’s words.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 646. 

Instituted as an ordinance

5. Was the feet washing confined to the Master’s loving service? With what words did He establish the feet washing as an ordinance for the Christian church? 

John 13:12-14 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 

“Christ was here instituting a religious service. By the act of our Lord this humiliating ceremony was made a consecrated ordinance. It was to be observed by the disciples, that they might ever keep in mind His lessons of humility and service.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 650. 

“Reconciliation one with another is the work for which the ordinance of feet washing was instituted…. Whenever it is celebrated, Christ is present by His Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit that brings conviction to hearts.” –The Faith I Live By, p. 298. 

6. What did Jesus mean when He said that He had given an example for His disciples to follow? What will every sincere believer want to do after reading Jesus’ words that He wanted His example of service to be carried out by His followers? 

John 13:15, 16 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 

“He who washed the feet of Judas longs to wash every heart from the stain of sin.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 656. 

“So Christ expressed His love for His disciples. Their selfish spirit filled Him with sorrow, but He entered into no controversy with them regarding their difficulty. Instead He gave them an example they would never forget. His love for them was not easily disturbed or quenched. He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came from God, and went to God. He had a full consciousness of His divinity; but He had laid aside His royal crown and kingly robes, and had taken the form of a servant. One of the last acts of His life on earth was to gird Himself as a servant, and perform a servant’s part.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 644, 645.

“There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for self, to seek the highest place; and often this results in evil surmisings and bitterness of spirit. The ordinance preceding the Lord’s Supper is to clear away these misunderstandings, to bring man out of his selfishness, down from his stilts of self-exaltation, to the humility of heart that will lead him to serve his brother.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 650. 

Promises for those who know and do

7. What will happen if we allow the Master to cleanse and purify our hearts and then cooperate with Him for the spiritual cleansing of others?

John 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 

Psalm 15:1, 2; 24:3-5 Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart…. 24:3Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 

“The celebration of these ordinances is the fulfilling of the command, ‘If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet….’ What a place is this for hushing controversies, for forgiving those who have done us any injury. This is the time, if one has anything against his brother, to make it right, to settle every difficulty. Let there be mutual forgiveness. Let no strange flame be brought to the altar. Let no malice, no hatred, be cherished by those who meet round the communion table. 

“Whenever this ordinance is rightly celebrated, the children of God are brought into a holy relationship, to help and bless each other.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 157.

For further study

“These words mean more than bodily cleanliness. Christ is still speaking of the higher cleansing as illustrated by the lower. He who came from the bath was clean, but the sandaled feet soon became dusty, and again needed to be washed. So Peter and his brethren had been washed in the great fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. Christ acknowledged them as His. But temptation had led them into evil, and they still needed His cleansing grace.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 646.

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