The structure of John’s Gospel has been compared with the three divisions of Israel’s earthly sanctuary.
There was an outer court, the holy place, and the Holy of Holies.
The first twelve chapters have been likened to the outer court, where the Lord moved among the mass of Jews, surrounded by His enemies, bearing witness to Himself, manifesting His glory in signs and wonders.
In Chapter 13 He leaves the outer court and enters the holy place surrounded by His own.
In Chapters 13-16 we see Him in sweet fellowship and concourse with His beloved disciples.
In Chapter 17 He enters into the Holy of Holies.
We see Him in sweet communion with His Father.
Chapters 13-17 are peculiar to this Gospel, they are not found in any of the others.
God chose John to write of the Deity of our Lord also to write of the eternal life which we, who have believed, have received from Him.
This abundant life, explained to a degree in the first twelve chapters, is now about to be more fully expanded and explained in Chapters 13-16.
Mention is also made of the things that accompany salvation (1) Prayer, (2) Fruit bearing, (3) The gift of the Holy Spirit, and (4) This love for one another.
Verse 1 The hour had come—the hour of His suffering-death resurrection, the hour that He would depart from this world, unto the Father.
Having loved His own etc. See Verse 34. Cp. He came unto His own.
Verse 2 We are introduced to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son. He is mentioned twice in this chapter, Verse 2 and 29. It is recorded here that the devil put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ. Verse 2.
The Lord in Chapter 6:70 announced that one of the twelve was a devil.
In Chapter 17:12 the Lord named him as the son of perdition—and that he was lost.
Judas called Christ Rabbi and Master but never addressed Him as “Lord.”
He did not believe in the Deity of Christ. He was an unbeliever.
In such a condition he was the perfect tool for Satan. The phrase “The devil having now put into the heart of Judas” literally means, “the devil having already dropped into the heart of Judas.” Cp. Matthew 26:14 Judas goes to the priests. What will ye give me?
Judas was present at the washing of the feet; he was present at the supper, then the Lord gave him the sop. Verse 26, Satan took possession of him Verse 27, “He went out” Verse 30 into the night.
Verses 2-20 The washing of the disciples feet
The washing of feet was a common courtesy, usually done by servants.
Peter could not tolerate the thought of the Lord washing his feet. Verse 6.
But in Verse 7 the Lord informs Peter that there is significance in His action, which at the present was hidden from, but it would be revealed to him afterward.
The “hereafter” or “afterward” means after the Holy Spirit is come, He will interpret the meaning of this action to him.
Verse 8 Peter did not profit from these words, but refused to have his feet washed.
The Lord’s reply is very significant “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.
Verse 9 When Peter heard this statement from the Lord, he went to the other extreme, saying “Not only my feet but also my hands and my head.”
Verse 10 To this the Lord replied “He who has bathed, does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over, and you are clean, but not all of you.”
Couched in this action of the Lord there is evidently a deeper spiritual meaning than what appears on the surface.
Now that the Holy Spirit has come we know what the “washing of the disciples feet” really symbolizes.
John, in his Gospel and in his Epistles, frequently refers to Water and Blood.
Blood is for atonement. Water is for cleansing.
It is His blood that washes our sins away.
It is the water which cleanses those who belong to Him.
Chapter 19-34 Shows us that blood and water came out from the Savior’s pierced side, the emblems of atonement and cleansing.
Restate the truth
The Lord’s disciples (Judas excepted) had been born again.
The precious blood of Christ had atoned for their sin.
They were clean, the stain of guilt and sin had forever been removed.
In the same way as a person who takes a bath is clean.
The oriental returning to his home from the public baths dirtied or defiled his feet, (they wore sandals) soon reaching his house, he washed his feet again. It was not necessary to bath—he was already clean.
Keeping this in mind let us go back over the verses.
Verse 8 Peter said “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” The Lord’s answer “If I wash (bathe) thee not, thou hast no part with me.”
Verse 9 Peter said “Not only my feet, but wash my hands and my head also.”
Verse 10 Jesus answered “He that is bathed does not need to be bathed all over again, only his feet needs to be cleansed.
The Application: The Spiritual Meaning
The question of the atonement of the believer is once and forever settled. In other words the true believer has been bathed—they are clean.
His sin and his guilt has been forever put away.
The great work of regeneration is once and forever done, and cannot be repeated, in the same way as it is impossible for the same person to be born twice, naturally.
The believer is heaven bound, but as we walk through this evil age our feet become defiled, that is to say we sin, (explain) this interrupts our fellowship with the Lord. We therefore need cleansing. To use the truth of the passage before us, we need our feet washed.
We must come with our failures, imperfections, our sins and confess them. 1 John 1:9.
If this is not practiced, while we may be saved, we will know nothing of real fellowship with the Lord, we will always be at a distance.
Another lesson: Humility
The Master and the Lord had washed the servants feet.
Verse 14 Ye ought also to wash one another’s feet.
How do we wash one another’s feet?
It has not to be taken in a literal sense.
There are only two ordinances for the church.
Baptism and Breaking of Bread.
Feet washing has a true spiritual meaning.
Washing of the disciple’s feet signifies cleansing from sin, by the water of the Word of God.
Now says the Lord what I have done for you do for one another. Verse 14.
If a fellow Christian has soiled his feet, has sinned we should go after him in humility, and love and restore him.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in a spirit of meekness.
This is true feet washing.
At times like these, the towel and the basin, humility love and sympathy will accomplish more than the sword.
“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”