Tom: We’re continuing with the gospel, and presently we are in the Gospel of John, chapter 13, and Dave, it’s our encouragement—again, the name of the program is Search the Scriptures Daily, and we want to encourage all of our listeners if they have never spent any time in the Bible, maybe never even picked up a Bible but would like to and just say, “Hey, it’s a big book, how should I go about this? What’s the best way to begin?” Well, you begin by reading—but our encouragement, at least my encouragement is, and I think you agree, Dave, you begin with the Gospel of John.
Dave: It’s a good place to start and then I would go right on into Acts and Romans.
Tom: Acts and Romans, and I might even throw in Galatians that we referred to, because that brings out a point about the gospel that’s really critical—that will put you on the alert that there’s only one gospel, and then if you want to understand it better, as Dave said, then go on to Romans, and Romans will lay it out very clearly for you.
But right now we are in John, chapter 13, and we are going to pick up with verse 3: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After 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.” Wow! This is the Creator of the universe!
Dave: Yeah, showing Himself as the servant: “I came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give my life a ransom for many,” Jesus said. Well, back to verse 3: “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God and went to God”—this wasn’t some revelation that He just had, nor was this some understanding that He had just arrived at, or some conviction now that had gripped Him. He is God—God and man in one person. He has known this all along.
Some people speculate, and they say, “When do you think Jesus began to realize that He was the Messiah?” Always, of course! He is God and man in one person, and you cannot separate the two. So He knows that—well, “His hour,” verse 1 said: “When Jesus knew that his hour was come, he is going to depart from this world.”
So, now He’s got one final act before He goes to the Cross, and He rises from supper and He laid—I don’t think He’s naked—He laid aside His garments. I think it means just His extra ones that He doesn’t need, and He’s got a towel now, and He pours water and He begins to wash the disciples’ feet. Now that was something that you generally did. If there was a host, He would have water for you and because they wore sandals, they were on a very dusty road—their feet got dirty! But there is no host here. This is the upper room that the disciples have been led to, and they are making ready for the Passover the next day, and who thought of doing this? None of the disciples were willing to wash one another’s feet, so Jesus sets the example.
In fact, on other occasions He said, “You want to be the chief? Who wants to be the chief? Well, then make yourself the servant of all, take the lowest place,” and He often said when you go to a feast, you don’t put yourself in the top row and get the best seat, but sit in the back and be humble and patient, and if it’s to be, then maybe the man that’s in charge will call you up a little higher. So Jesus is setting an example of what His disciples ought to do: we should serve one another.
Tom: Dave, let me interject something here. I had a friend a number of years back…
Dave: Tom, I’m glad you had a friend once upon a time!
Tom: I do, Dave. There are some people who put up with me.
Dave: You mean you still have some friends?
Tom: They put up with me, okay?
Dave: Wow! That’s amazing!
Tom: (laughing) Yeah. Anyway he was a member of the Worldwide Church of God, and, correct me if I am wrong here, but I seem to remember him telling me that the washing of feet was actually an ordinance within the Worldwide Church of God. They had baptism, they had—see, communion was done rarely, but I do believe that was one of their ordinances.
Dave: It could be, Tom. I don’t remember specifically, but it is an ordinance with a number of churches. Now I have a problem with that.
Tom: That’s what I wanted you to address.
Dave: That’s right, because you know these people wash their feet at home before they come because when they take their shoes and socks off, they wouldn’t want to have dirty feet. So they are actually just going through a ritual.
Here, it had some practical purpose. Christ is actually washing dirty feet, and they got dirty, and He is humbling Himself to do this. It’s not a sacrament; it’s not something He is just doing for show, much less just doing it to have something He is doing, you know, that shows that He is humble, but it had a practical purpose to it. And the fact that it didn’t involve literally washing feet—that wasn’t the main point that was made. He says to Peter, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.” Now that tells me quite clearly that what He was doing wasn’t just washing people’s feet, but it was something else. It was beyond that. And otherwise, they certainly knew that He was washing their feet.
So when He says, “What I am doing, you don’t know now, but you will know hereafter,” then we have to look beyond the physical act of washing. So for any church just to engage in the physical act of washing feet—Tom, it’s sad—it’s taking this as if there’s some virtue in washing feet even that don’t need to be washed. That’s not the point. The point is, Jesus is making Himself a servant. He’s doing something that needs to be done, and nobody else was willing to do it. But they would understand that He was washing their feet, so there must be something beyond this.
Tom: And Dave, that’s the problem with rituals. All of a sudden, they become something very spiritual; and all of a sudden, they become something that’s efficacious, that involves grace. and all of these spiritual things that we need, and people miss the point. Not only is it not the way God would have us go about things. There’s nothing efficacious about communion, there’s nothing efficacious about baptism, although many teach this, but it can’t be. These were things that we do to remember what Christ did. Yes, it’s a representation in baptism that we are being buried with Christ and that we are going to rise up as He was resurrected, and we are going to live for Him.
Dave: Tom, though the expression slips my mind, it’s a Latin expression that means, “in the act itself.”
Tom: Ex opere operato.
Dave: Yes, ex opere operato, and the Catholic Church says if you do not believe that the sacraments ex opere operato minister grace, anathema to you! So the Catholic Church is saying, “No, the very act itself….” No, it was the remembrance of Christ, and so forth.
Tom: Not just the act but the water in baptism. Wow.
Dave: But here, notice what He says—let’s go on: “Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” Lord, I mean, you shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing!
“Well, Peter, why didn’t you do it?”
“Jesus answered and said, What I do thou knowest not now: but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.” Well, but Peter why didn’t you do it then? Why did you wait for the Lord to do it? Jesus answered—now this is strange—”If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Now, He doesn’t mean washing your feet literally. “If I don’t cleanse you with my blood….” But it’s going beyond that, because my feet have never been washed by Jesus. Yours haven’t. So He can’t mean that literally.
“Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” Well, if that’s so important, Lord, wash everything! “Jesus said to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and you are clean, but not all,” because “he knew who should betray him; therefore he said, Ye are not all clean.”
Well, Tom, we have run out of time, but the point is, we become contaminated by the world. We need to wash one another’s feet. You need to point out to me when I’m going astray, I need to point out to you when you’re going astray. This is not washing our feet with H2O, but this is washing us as we get contaminated or go astray in the world. But if you’ve been washed, you are clean—He’s going to say you are clean through the Word that I have spoken.
Tom: Absolutely, Dave. That is so important.
Dave: This is what cleanses us. We’ve run out of time, Tom, I think we had better come back and deal with this because we didn’t do it adequately.