We have just finished the first 12 chapters of the Fourth Gospel, which is called "The Book of Signs." These first 12 chapters were primarily concerned with the seven sign-miracles, which Lazarus has selected as representative of Yeshua's ministry and demonstrative of who He is. Most of the words and works of Yeshua in these chapters were aimed at a wider audience in both Judea and Galilee and were primarily evangelistic.
Last week we began our study of the last nine chapters of this Gospel, which are known as "The Book of Glory"; In these chapters Yeshua accomplishes His return to the Father (13:1-20:31). Unlike the "Book of Signs," "The Book of Glory" is addressed only to those who have believed.
Chapters 13-17 form a division, which we call the "Upper Room Discourse." This Upper Room Discourse, five chapters, represents the final night of Yeshua's life. He will be arrested in the middle of the night. He will undergo a false trial in the wee hours of the 14th of Nisan and He will be executed at 3:00pm. He will die as the true Lamb of God, the Passover Lamb.
The "Upper Room Discourse" is something that is not contained in the Synoptics and represents five chapters of Yeshua's teaching to His disciples. This section is about the subject of love, the love of Yeshua for His own, which are believers, and Yeshua's teaching that believers are to demonstrate the love of God to one another. He loves us and He expects us to love one another:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Yeshua knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, John 13:1-2 ESV
We looked at verse one last week, and said that the meal that we see in this text is not the Passover meal. The Passover meal was eaten on the evening of the 15 of Nisan, which was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The meal that we see in this text is the Lord's Last Supper, which took place on the evening of the 14th of Nisan. Why is it that this meal cannot be the Passover meal? Yeshua died on the 14th of Nisan at 3:00 pm, He was killed while the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. He was the Lamb of God and was in the tomb when the Passover meal was eaten.
This is important because sixteen hundred years before Christ's resurrection, Yahweh predicted in type and shadow that Yeshua would be crucified on the 14th of Nisan at 3:00pm and would rise from the dead three days later on the first day of the week, which was the Feast of Firstfruits, and it happened exactly as God said it would. The Passover lamb was a type and Yeshua was the antitype.
We finished last time with the last statement in verse 1, "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end"—in this Upper Room Discourse, which deals with the ministry that Yeshua has with reference to the believers, love becomes one of the key words. The object of the love of God in Christ, in these chapters is the newly forming people of God, the church. We have seen the word "love" used only seven times in chapters 1-12, but we see it 30 times in chapters 13-17. There are more references to the Savior's love for His own here than anywhere in the Bible.
"He loved them to the end"—the word "end" here is from the Greek telos ,which as is typical in Lazarus' writings has a double meaning: the obvious "utterly, completely," but also "to the very end of life itself," that is, up to the point of death. This is the greatest act of love ever, God loved men so much that He died to pay their sin debt.
During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, John 13:2 ESV
Where is this supper taking place? Lazarus doesn't tells us. But the Synoptic Gospels, identify this supper taking place in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Lazarus doesn't tell us this because he assumes the reader is thoroughly familiar with the Synoptic Gospel accounts found in Matthew 26:20-35; Mark 14:17-42; and Luke 22:7-13.
"During supper"—there is a textual problem here in that some of the manuscripts have, "And supper being ended" this is how the KJV translates it. "During" is a present participle, and a literal translation should be "while supper was in progress." Although the wording in the literal Greek is somewhat ambiguous, verse 26 clearly indicates that supper is still in progress:
Yeshua answered, "It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. John 13:26 ESV
So evidently, the supper is in process rather than being ended.
"When the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him"—here we see that human agents are becoming tools of the devil.
So the devil and Judas are now in a conspiracy of evil to bring Yeshua to the cross. We'll look at this in more detail later in this chapter.
When it comes to spirit beings such as Satan, the devil, demons, and unclean spirits there are basically three positions. 1) Some believers don't believe in a personal devil or demons; to them there is no such thing. 2) Some believe that Satan, demons, and unclean spirits are real beings that are still very active today. 3) Some believe that Satan, demons, and unclean spirits are real beings, but were all defeated and destroyed in A.D. 70 at the return of Christ when judgment took place.
Those who hold to view 1) hold the idea that Satan is not a real spiritual being, but instead is merely referring to a personification of sinfulness in the human heart, or to wicked human beings. They would say that Satan is merely our own internal sinful human nature or inclination to sin. How would that view fit with Scripture?
Then Yeshua was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1 ESV
Is this Yeshua being tempted by His own sinful nature? To go there is an attack on the deity of Christ. The Bible teaches that Christ was sinless. He didn't have a sinful nature. Is Christ being tempted by wicked human beings? Most would say that Christ's adversaries were the Jews. Could Satan here represent the Jews?
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Matthew 4:8-9 ESV
Would the Jews ask Christ to worship them? No! Is Christ carrying on a conversation here with Himself? Throughout the context "the tempter" or "the devil" is given personal attributes and clearly distinguished from Yeshua as being another person. Now here in this context do we get the idea that the devil is merely referring to a sinful human nature of Christ. It's kind of ridiculous to think that a sinful nature within Christ demanded Christ to worship Christ, and if He did, Christ would give Christ the nations. Satan offering Christ the nations is not an empty promise. Satan was ruling the nations. Sinful human beings could not make this offer to Christ.
And it seems rather silly that Judas put in his own heart to betray Christ. Those who deny the existence of Satan or demons want to make everything the result of natural occurrences, which denies the supernatural.
Yeshua, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, John 13:3 ESV
"All things given into his hands"—Yeshua knew that His earthly mission was nearly complete, and that He was returning to the Father in heaven. He knew that everything had been given over to Him by the Father. In other words, He knew He was in complete control. It is our Lord's sovereignty that is being stressed here. This point here is that Yeshua has the highest rank imaginable. Knowing that He has come from God in the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity, and knowing that He would die, and that He would be resurrected, and that He would ascend to the right-hand of the Father, knowing this tremendously great place that He as the Son has, even though He is God in human flesh, He takes the place of a servant. The hands that control the universe, including all the angelic host, humbly washed the dirty feet of the undeserving disciples:
rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:4-5 ESV
I'd like to suggest that when He laid aside His garments that that was a picture of His death that would transpire shortly. The Greek word translated here as "laid aside" is tithemi, which is the same word that is used in John chapter 10 and verse 15 to describe His death:
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:15 ESV
"Lay down" here is tithemi. And so here he rises from the supper and he lays down his garments. This may be another of Lazarus' double entendres.
The plural garments is probably a reference to more than one garment. If so, this would indicate that Yeshua stripped to a loincloth, like a slave. The word "towel" here is lention is a Latin loanword (linteum) which is also found in the rabbinic literature. It would have been a long piece of linen cloth, long enough for Yeshua to have wrapped it about his waist and still used the free end to wipe the disciples' feet. So Yeshua adopted the dress of a menial slave. A dress that was looked down upon in both Jewish and Gentile circles [SB 2. 557; Suetonius, Caligula, 26].
Think about this, the one who was "the very nature of God … made himself nothing and took the very nature of a servant." Does that sound familiar? Paul put it this way:
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-8 ESV
What we see here in this foot washing is a picture of the kenosis. The self emptying of Christ.
Let's talk about Foot washing:
In Palestine in Yeshua's time, almost all travel was done by walking; there was almost no pavement, and the footwear was sandals. Dirty feet were the inevitable result. And you can understand why—sandal-covered feet would pick up all the dirt, dust and manure found on the streets. To wash one's feet was not a high priority for common people in the ordinary course of events. But for special occasions, what we would call formal dining events especially, foot washing brought hygiene, and comfort. A good host provided this gracious service for guests on arrival. It was done by one of the lowest ranking servants because it was not considered a pleasant task! Jewish documents indicate that occasionally a student would wash his rabbi's feet.
The fact that the meal was already begun and no foot washing had happened indicates that the disciples responsible for setting up the meal had failed to get someone to perform this menial task. The washing of the feet of one's guests was expected in Yeshua' day, as we can see from Luke's Gospel:
Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Luke 7:44 ESV
When John the Baptizer wanted to show the superiority of Christ over him he said:
And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. Mark 1:7 ESV
He would be untiing his sandals so he could wash his feet. To wash a guest's feet was the duty of a slave and such a duty was considered so lowly that Jewish slaves (not gentile slaves) were not required to perform such a service (see Mishnah: Mekhilta). This may be over emphasized since foot washing was not just a duty performed by a slave. A wife might perform this for a husband, as Abigail expressed a willingness to perform, even for David's servants when she received David's offer of marriage in 1 Samuel 25:40-41. Or a host for an honored guest as Abraham washed the feet of his three visitors in Genesis 18:4.
But in that culture Yeshua was the last person in the room that should have been washing people's feet. The disciples' human understanding of status and rights was being turned upside down. In the Kingdom of God roles are reversed and human understandings of status and rights are abolished.
Let me give you the context of this foot washing from the other gospels: In Luke's account of the events of this evening we read of a dispute among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.
A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. Luke 22:24 ESV
So during the Last Supper the disciples were having an argument about which of them was the greatest in the kingdom. Lazarus does not record this, but he tells of an action of Yeshua that rebuked their lack of humility more strikingly than any words could have done. While they are arguing about which of them was the greatest Yeshua, their Lord and Savior, Yahweh in human flesh, washes their feet.
Aren't you glad that we are not like the disciples, desperately in need of this lesson on humility? Sarcasm! The church is to often filled with a worldly spirit of competition and criticism as believers vie with one another to see who is the greatest.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" John 13:6 ESV
Most of the disciples remained silent as Yeshua washed their feet, but of course Peter could not refrain from objecting. The Greek construction of his question suggests indignant emphasis: "Are you going to wash my feet?" Peter viewed the situation as totally unacceptable socially. Peter understood this on the physical level, he wasn't getting the picture. So Yeshua tells him:
Yeshua answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand." John 13:7 ESV
Peter and the others will understand later—or, better, "after these things" (Gk. meta tauta). This does not refer to the footwashing, but to the passion to which the footwashing points. This is an allusion to the post-resurrection insight that would come to all the disciples on Pentecost.
Yeshua is urging Peter to trust Him. Peter didn't get it and often neither do we. We need to learn to trust our Lord even when we don't understand things that are happening.
Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Yeshua answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me." John 13:8 ESV
"Peter said to him, 'You shall never wash my feet'"-this is a strong double negative which meant "never no never under any circumstances". Does this sound like something you should say to your Lord? Peter knew who Yeshua was. He said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And yet he says to Yeshua, "You will never wash my feet." This is pretty arrogant of Peter.
So the Lord responds to Peter, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me"-what does this mean? Before you answer let me remind you of a few things. He is talking to Peter. Remember what I said earlier about The Book of Glory? It is written to Believers!
Commenting on, "You have no share with me"- one writer said, "This is a Semitic expression indicating that Peter will be cutting himself off from his Lord and from his share in the glory of Christ."
John MacArthur writes, "What did Jesus mean when He said, 'If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me'? Well, He was not out of the illustration and into the reality. He was talking about the need that Peter had to be spiritually cleansed. He needed what Ezekiel promised in the New Covenant: the washing. He needed what Paul wrote to Titus about; the washing of regeneration. He needed spiritual cleansing, and Christ was condescending, humiliating Himself, going all the way to the cross to provide the means of that spiritual cleansing."
Many commentators make it sound like if Yeshua didn't wash Peter's feet, Peter would not be saved, he would not have eternal life. Is that what Yeshua is saying? I don't think so. Let's start by looking at the word "share." This is from the Greek word meros. Some say that meros means and inheritance. Which bolsters their case of a loss of salvation but in it's forty uses in the New Testament it is never translated inheritance.
Meros has a wide range of uses, and how it's translated needs to be determined by the context. In Luke chapter 10 Yeshua is visiting in Bethany and he enters into the house of Mary and Martha and Lazarus, and Martha immediately rushes to the kitchen to do something about food and Mary sits at his feet and goes on listening to his word. Martha is not happy that Mary is not helping her and asks Yeshua to tell Mary to help her and Yeshua says:
But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42 ESV
The "good portion" is to sit at our Lord's feet and commune with him and to hear his word. So the term "portion" is meris, which the feminine form of meros, it has the idea here of communion, fellowship. We also see meris used in:
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV
Here "portion" is meris. The NASB translates this as "common". All these terms, partnership, fellowship, portion, share, all refer to communion. So the term "share" is a term that can refer to communion, to fellowship. So when Yeshua says, "Peter look, if I don't wash your feet, you don't have part with me," he doesn't mean, "Peter, it's necessary for me to wash your feet in order for you to be saved, but Peter it's necessary for me to wash your feet in order for you to have communion with me."
Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Yeshua said to him, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you." John 13:9-10 ESV
Yeshua said that, although Peter already had experienced a spiritual bath, he still needed his feet washed. The word "clean" is katharos, it is used here of salvation.
Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. John 15:3 ESV
He is speaking to his disciples here, Judas was not present. He says they are "clean" which is the Greek word katharos. He uses katharos of the disciples because they have bathed and they are clean. That is, they are born again. They have believed on Yeshua. They have eternal life. They have passed from death to life. They have become sons of light. Children of God. They are his sheep and no one can pluck them out of his hand. They will not and cannot be lost.
Yeshua says, in the end of verse 10, "But not every one of you", because Judas was there:
For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "Not all of you are clean." John 13:11 ESV
In 13:8 the word "wash" is the Greek word nipto which means, to wash the parts of the body. While the word "bathed" in 13:10 is louo and means, "to bathe all over." So Yeshua is saying the one who has been bathed all over only needs to have his feet washed.
Yeshua's reply in verse 10 has generated almost endless discussion about baptism. However, regardless of what one thinks about baptism the issue is not foot washing versus whole body baptism.
When Yeshua says in verse 10, "And you are clean, but not every one of you."
The "you" is plural, referring to the all the disciples, except for Judas. Yeshua is telling them (the disciples) that they are clean, they are saved.
Let me just say here that there is some textual problems here in that the words "except for his feet" are not in some manuscripts, but the preponderance of textual evidence favors retention of the phrase.
So what I see is happening here is that Yeshua distinguished the two types of spiritual cleansing that believers experience: forensic and family forgiveness. When a person believes in Yeshua as Savior, God removes all the guilt of that person for sins committed in the past, present, and future. Yeshua spoke of this forensic or legal forgiveness as a total "bath" (louo). After a person believes in Yeshua as Savior, he or she commits sins—and those sins hinder the believer's fellowship with God. For example a sin that will hinder fellowship is unforgivenes.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 ESV
What are these verses teaching? Are we saved by forgiving others? Will we lose our salvation if we don't forgive others? No. I think that what is in view here is not judicial forgiveness, but relational forgiveness, not forensic forgiveness but family forgiveness. Judicial forgiveness views God as a judge. God looks down and says, "You're guilty, you have sinned and you must be punished." But all who have trusted in Yeshua have their sin debt paid in full by His work.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Yeshua. Romans 8:1 ESV
God says, "I declare you forgiven, by virtue of your faith in Yeshua the Christ." By that judicial act of forgiveness, all of your sins, past, present, and future are completely forgiven. You are justified forever.
I think that what is being referred to in this passage, is relational forgiveness. Although our sins are forgiven, if we don't forgive others it effects our relationship with God. We don't stop being His child, but we loose an intimacy, our communion is broken. We restore our communion through confession of our sins.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESV
The gospel brings judicial forgiveness, and obedience, along with confession of sin, will bring the joy that comes from relational forgiveness.
Yeshua compared this family forgiveness to "washing (nipto) the feet," which become dirty while walking through life. Therefore, Yeshua was illustrating the importance of believers obtaining spiritual cleansing from God—periodically—when He washed the disciples' feet. The basis for both types of forgiveness is Yeshua's work on the cross.
Thayer's lexicon offers the following explanation of v. 10: "…the idea which Christ expresses figuratively is as follows: 'he whose inmost nature has been renovated does not need radical renewal, but only to be cleansed from every several fault into which he may fall through intercourse with the unrenewed world'. [J. H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 312, s.v. kaqarov".]
Edersheim, in his book The Temple has some interesting comments on this text, "A subterranean passage, lit on both sides, led to the well appointed bath-rooms [under Herod's Temple] where the priests immersed themselves. After that they needed not all that day to wash again, save their hands and feet, which they had to do each time, however often, they came for service in the Temple. It was, no doubt, to this that our Lord referred in His reply to Peter: 'He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit.'" [Edersheim, The Temple, p. 149.]
So in this text Yeshua is talking to his disciples and he tells them that they are clean, meaning they have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, they are believers. But he tells these believers that they need to have their feet washed. They need to deal with sin and stay in fellowship with Christ. I believe that the same is true of us. If we have trusted Christ we are saved, we have had a spiritual bath but we still sin, we get our feet dirty as we walk through this world and we need them washed in order to stay in fellowship with Christ. We must walk through this life in dependant discipline. We must depend on Christ and discipline ourselves to walk in holiness. Sin is destructive! To continue in sin is to harm your fellowship with Christ.
I think that what Lazarus is teaching us here is the same thing that Jude taught:
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. Jude 1:20-21 ESV
"Keep yourselves in the love of God"—the word "keep" here is tereo, from teros—a guard or warden; it means: "to keep an eye on, to keep something in view, to hold firmly, to attend carefully, or to watch over it." Jude is calling for the saints to "keep" themselves "In the love of God"—"in" is locative of sphere, indicating as Wuest translates it: "within the sphere of God's love."
To keep yourself in the love of God simply means: "keep yourself in the place where you experience the blessing that God's love brings." It means: "to stay in the sphere of God's love." It means you walk in obedience to His revealed will. And when you remain obedient, you will enjoy all the fullness of God's love. Christ says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments"; that is, do the will of God. Obey the Father; obey what the Bible tells us. Be obedient—do not be rebellious or usurp the authority of the Word of God.
In order for a believer to stay in the sphere of God's love we need to continually have our feet washed. We need to be confessing our sins and walking in love. To be a child of God is one thing but to walk in intimate fellowship with the Father is something else. So believer, how is your relationship with your Father? Are you walking in a close communion with Him?