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 bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, 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.
H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): Notice what Jesus did not say, and then notice what He did say. He did not say, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part in me.” He did say, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” What is the difference between “part in Him,” and “part with Him?” Well, “part in Him,” is life, and Peter already had divine life. He was already “in Him.” To be in Christ is just the opposite of being in Adam. We are in Christ by new birth. And Peter had been already born of God. He had already received Him as his Saviour, and so he was in Him. But now Jesus says, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me,” and with Him is communion. With Him is fellowship.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): He has washed all Believers, once and for all, in His most precious blood—cleansing, as before the bar of justice, is completely accomplished forever for all the chosen by the great blood-shedding upon Calvary. That is a matter of the past—a thing for which to bless God for all eternity. “We are clean, through Jesus’ blood we are clean.” But here is another kind of washing—not of the entire man, but of the feet only. Not with blood, but with water—not in the fountain filled from the Saviour’s veins—but in a basin filled with water.
H. A. IRONSIDE: Every believer is linked up with the Lord Jesus Christ by two links. There is the link of union, and the link of union is so strong that the weight of a world could not break it. He says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand,” John 10:27,28. It might be translated: “They shall never, by any means, perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.” That is the link of union. But there is also the link of communion.
JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Union with Christ is fundamentally necessary to all communion with Him. All communion is founded in union; and where there is no union, there can be no communion…Communion with God pre-supposes the habits of grace implanted in the soul by sanctification; a sound and sincere change of heart. No sanctification, no communion.
H. A. IRONSIDE: We must be clean to enjoy communion with Christ…The link of communion is so fragile that the least unconfessed sin will break it in a moment, and the only way it can be reformed is by confessing and forsaking the sin that snapped it.
ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Let me remind you that there is no cleansing without Christ. Can you do it for yourselves, do you think? There is an old proverb, ‘One hand washes the other.’ That is true about stains on the flesh. It is not true about stains on our spirits. Nobody can do it for us but Jesus Christ alone.
C. H. SPURGEON: It is even so! He does do it—He does, in this sense, wash His people’s feet! When Jesus Christ puts away from us day by day our daily infirmities and sins, does He not wash our feet? Last night, when you bowed the knee, you could not help confessing that there had been much in the week’s transactions which was not worthy of your standing and profession. And even tonight, when the engagements of this day are over, you will have to mourn that you foolishly committed the very sins which you repented of weeks ago…And yet Jesus Christ will have great patience with you! He will hear your confession of sin! He will say, “I will, be thou clean.” He will again apply the blood of sprinkling—He will speak peace to your conscience and remove every spot.
H. A. IRONSIDE: And so Jesus says, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” He means, “If I am not daily washing thee from the defilement that continually clings to one’s feet, you cannot have fellowship with Me.”
Now Peter goes to the other extreme. He says, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” But Jesus says, “No, Peter, you are wrong again. He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit…”—What is it the Savior is telling us here? Why, this: when a Christian fails and becomes defiled in thought or deed or word, he does not thereby cease to be a Christian; he does not cease to be a child of God and have to begin all over again, but he simply needs to have his feet washed. He needs to have his walk cleansed.
C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, it is a great act of eternal love when Christ, once and for all absolves the sinner, takes him from under the dominion of the Law and puts him into the family of God! But what long-suffering and patience there is when the Saviour, with much long-suffering, bears the daily follies of the recipient of so much mercy! Day by day and hour by hour He puts away the constant sin of the erring but yet beloved child! To dry up a flood of sin is something marvelous—but to endure the constant dropping of daily sins—to bear with that constant weary trying of patience, this is Divine, indeed! To blot out the whole of sin like a thick cloud is a great and matchless power, as well as Grace—but to remove the mist of every morning and the damp of every night—oh, this is condescension! I wish I could describe it—it is condescension well imaged in the washing of Peter’s feet.