The foot washing episode of John 13 serves as “a rebuke to the disciples’ ambitious strife, far more powerful than words could have spoken: Such a rebuke that never again do we see a hint of the old question, ‘Who should be greatest?’ It was Christ’s answer to their unseemly conduct, and a lesson to all Christians “who love to be first” for all time. It said, ‘Let him that would be greatest become the servant of all.’”
– B.W. Johnson
Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling;Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.
The best commentary on John 13 is Philippians 2 because it describes the stages of Christ’s mission. Note what the text says in 13:4: “Jesus rose from supper” just as he had risen from his heavenly throne. “He laid aside his garments” just as he had laid aside his heavenly glory. “He girded himself with a towel” just as in the incarnation he took the form of a servant. Verse 5… “He poured water into a basin and began to wash and wipe their feet” just as on the cross he secured our cleansing from sin. Verse 12…. When he had washed their feet and taken up his garments, “He resumed his place…” He sat down again just as when he had purged our sins he returned to his heavenly glory and sat down at the Father’s right hand. By these actions, he dramatizes his whole saving mission.
For Judas to betray such a master, to betray him so cheaply and upon no provocation, was such downright enmity to God as could not be forged but by Satan himself, who thereby thought to ruin the Redeemer’s kingdom, but did in fact ruin his own.
Conscious that we labor under darkness, and conscious of our inability to judge what God is doing, should make us sparing and modest in our censures of his proceedings…Unlike the Apostle Peter in John 13.
– Adapted from Matthew Henry